VLADIVOSTOK, June 27. /TASS/. Experts of the Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO) have set free two orcas and six beluga whales, previously held captive in Srednyaya Bay in Russia’s Primorsky Region, VNIRO’s press service informed on Wednesday.
"The specialists have finalized the release of the animals delivered to Perovsky’s Cape [in Khabarovsk Region]. Two orcas and six beluga whales have been set free into their natural habitat. Before the release, veterinarians have collected all necessary samples, the animals are in good health. The scientists have also placed trackers on the orcas and the whales, which would help them track their movements and collect data on their behavior," VNIRO spokesperson Alexey Smorodov informed.
He added that the weather conditions in the region are favorable. "According to researchers, the orcas have been visibly nervous, staying close to the shore for several hours and then entering the open water of the Sakhalin Gulf. In the afternoon, the researchers have released the beluga whales. The animals entered the open sea immediately," the message states.
Earlier, the orcas and the beluga whales had been delivered to the Perovsky’s Cape located in the Khabarovsk Region. After the researchers and the veterinarians return to the Srednyaya Bay, preparations for the release of the next batch of marine animals will begin.
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.
Russian President Vladimir 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 regarding the situation with the captured animals. In mid-May, the Primorsky Region authorities announced that the mammals could be freed within two months. On June 21, the first batch of marine animals had been delivered to Khabarovsk.