MOSCOW, November 14. /TASS/. Ecologists from the "Free Russian Whales" coalition have raised the issue of releasing walruses kept in Srednyaya Bay in the Primorsky Region, from where beluga whales and orcas had been released last week, the environmental coalition reported on its VKontakte social media page on Thursday.
Representatives for the Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Center reported in March that there were six young walruses being held in Srednyaya Bay on legal grounds. No investigation into them was carried out. On November 12, the Amur Basin Nature Protection Prosecutor’s Office filed a lawsuit to deem the permits for the capture of beluga whales, orcas and walruses issued for the Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Center in Srednyaya Bay by the Russian Federal Agency for Fishery as illegal.
"The 'Free Russian Whales' coalition is analyzing the legality of capture and upkeep of the walruses, as well as legal ways to take them away from the captors and release them into their natural habitat. <…> You have to rehabilitate them in order to help them return to the environment and increase their chances for survival, and for this purpose, the walruses should be taken away from the ‘jail.’ The Sea Calf Center in the Primorsky Region is ready to take the young animals for rehabilitation," the report says.
The environmentalists are working on an appeal to law enforcement authorities in order to solve the issue of the walruses’ confiscation. The activists also intend to receive information from scientists to work on recommendations for the release of the said marine animals.
According to the coalition, six walruses were captured in 2018 in Chukotka and then taken to Srednyaya Bay.
Whale of a saga
Ninety beluga whales and 11 orcas caught for sale to China had been kept in the Primorsky Region’s Srednyaya Bay, since the summer of 2018, but later three beluga whales and one orca got lost. According to investigators, during the whales’ capture, violations were detected and a criminal case on the illegal seizure of bioresources was launched.
In June, the gradual transportation of the marine mammals to the north of the Khabarovsk Region began for their release into the wild in groups. The last batch was released in the Primorsky Region on November 10.
The Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Center in Srednyaya Bay reported in March that six walrus calves who are also kept there were captured and are being held there on legal grounds, and no investigation into them was carried out.