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Owners of orcas captured in Russia’s Far East ready to set them free

Eleven orcas had been kept for sale to China in Srednyaya Bay along with 90 beluga whales, 3 belugas went missing, an orca reportedly disappeared, which led to an illegal hunting criminal case

VLADIVOSTOK, May 24. /TASS/. The owners of the orca whales kept in a bay in Russia’s Far East are ready to set the animals free, if there is a corresponding government decision, a spokesperson for the Afalina company informed in a video commentary published by the region’s officials.

"On the recommendation of VNIRO (Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography - TASS), we comply with all the demands. We are getting the animals ready, so that if there is a final decision to set them free, we will do that. We will comply with all government decisions, and we comply with VNIRO decisions every day," he said.

Eleven orcas had been kept for sale to China in the facility in Srednyaya Bay along with 90 beluga whales. However, three beluga whales went missing, and one orca reportedly disappeared. A criminal case has been launched into illegal hunting of these mammals.

In May of this year, researchers have given their recommendations for the rehabilitation of captured animals in order to release them into the wild, which included increasing nutrition and veterinary control and providing them with bigger enclosures. However, on Thursday, director general of the Afalina company stated that the animals are his property and he had not made a decision on whether to release them.

In late February, Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture together with scientific organizations to come up with a solution for the whales. The Russian presidential administration took the whale issue under special control. In mid-May, the authorities in Primorye announced that the mammals could be freed within two months.