WDC is monitoring with concern reports that Russian armed forces have taken control of Ukrainian military bases holding dolphins.
Recommendations to take 10 more killer whales from the Russian Far East in 2014 were made yesterday, 19 March 2014, by TINRO, the Pacific Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography— much to the dismay of scientists who have been studying Russian orcas now for 14 years as part of the Far East Russia Orca Project, supported by WDC.
WDC research fellow, Erich Hoyt has reported today that "No orcas will be exhibited at the Olympics in Sochi". He also reports that "no dolphin will carry the torch, as earlier proposed by the region. Both of these confirmed by the President, Sochi Olympic Committee."
A highlight of this week’s Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, in Dunedin, New Zealand, was the panel discussion on killer whales in captivity. This was a unique event for the Society. In the wake of the film “Blackfish”, the book Death at Sea World, and the recent live captures of 7 killer whales in Russia, the events of the day seemed to be calling out for a response.
Eight killer whales have been taken from the wild in the Russian Far East in the last year, seven of them since August. They are being held in small pools near Vladivostok and are awaiting their fate. The news, as revealed on the russianorca facebook page run by a group of Russian killer whale researchers, has prompted hundreds of comments, more than 1,600 shares to date, and extensive activity on twitter, blogs and websites. People are clearly upset.
Three more orcas, or killer whales, have now been confirmed to have been captured in Russian waters for transportation to amusement parks and aquariums.
The capture happened in mid-August in the Sea of Okhotsk—the massive far eastern inland sea of Russia, lying due north of Japan—but details are just coming to light. The three orcas, were taken by a Russian catching team, believed to be the team that caught a female orca in the same general area at the same time last year.
The Georgia Aquarium in the US is to seek to overturn a recent US government agency decision preventing the import of 18 wild-caught beluga whales from Russia.
Whale scientists working off the coast of Kamchatka in eastern Russia have photographed and filmed a pure white male orca, or killer whale. One of the first sightings of its kind.
'Iceberg', as he has been named, seems happy and healthy, and is leading a normal life with other orcas in his pod. His dorsal fin is a good two-metres high which means he is at least 16 years old.
You can watch film and see more photos on the BBC's news site.