KHABAROVSK, June 21. /TASS/. A ship carrying orcas and beluga whales, who spent about a year in captivity in the Srednyaya Bay in Russia’s Far East, left the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk and continued its journey to the location where they will be released, a source in the Trans Amur company, which is in charge of the delivery, told TASS on Friday.
Earlier, the whales travelled about 900 km in trucks from the marine mammal adaptation center in the Srednyaya Bay to the city of Khabarovsk. There, they were loaded onto a ship to continue their journey.
"The ship has left its berth with the containers on board," the source said, adding that no incidents were reported during the loading.
The animals are due to arrive to the village of Innokentyevka in the Khabarovsk region on Monday. There, the whales will again be loaded into trucks and taken to Perovsky Cape in the Gulf of Sakhalin, where they will have a chance to rest and recover before the release.
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.
Putin instructed the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture together with scientific organizations in late February 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.
In late May, the Federal Security Service’s Border Directorate in Primorye sent to court files on three cases on administrative offence against several legal entities, which had been involved in hunting the mammals. The court has found three companies guilty of violating the rules of fishing and ordered them to pay fines of between 28 mln rubles ($443,000) and 56 mln rubles ($886,000).