All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Prevent bycatch
  • Stop whaling
Southern Resident orca update: recapping an orca-centric legislative session

Southern Resident orca update: recapping an orca-centric legislative session

2019 has been a crazy, but exciting, year for Southern Resident orcas.  And I can’t...
How you fly two beluga whales home to the ocean

How you fly two beluga whales home to the ocean

Ahead of the relocation of Little White and Little Grey to the world’s first open...
Is a good outcome possible for the jailed whales in Russia?

Is a good outcome possible for the jailed whales in Russia?

It’s not often that we report good news from Russia about whales and dolphins. We...
How to help the Dolphinaris Arizona Dolphins

How to help the Dolphinaris Arizona Dolphins

While the investigation into the recent deaths of four bottlenose dolphins at Dolphinaris Arizona is...
New date set for beluga move to sanctuary

New date set for beluga move to sanctuary

Following bad weather preventing the initial operation to move two beluga whales from captivity in...
Update: Beluga move home to the ocean temporarily postponed

Update: Beluga move home to the ocean temporarily postponed

We can confirm the departure of two belugas, Little Grey and Little White from their...
US authorities put forward proposal for Makah gray whale hunt

US authorities put forward proposal for Makah gray whale hunt

Federal authorities in the United States have put forward a proposal that would allow the...
Fossil of prehistoric four-legged whale discovered in Peru

Fossil of prehistoric four-legged whale discovered in Peru

Scientists have unearthed the fossil of a 43-million-year-old whale in Peru, which was adapted to...

Two orcas taken in illegal capture in Russia

Two killer whales were captured in recent weeks in Nikolaya Gulf, in the southwestern Sea of Okhotsk, the Russian Far East. The captors are reporting that the orcas were actually taken in 2013 and spent the winter in Nikolaya Gulf. This is impossible because the Gulf is completely frozen in winter. Word is that the orcas are being transported toward Komsomolsk-on-Amur, 356 km NE of Khabarovsk. Final destination is unknown.

“These captures appear to be illegal,” says Erich Hoyt, WDC research fellow and co-director of the Far East Russia Orca Project which has been studying orcas in the Kamchatka area for 15 years. “No quotas have yet been issued for orca captures in 2014, following disagreements between the Russian fisheries board and the scientific advisory board in Russia who recommended zero captures. Without a quota which is necessary to get a permit, the captures would be illegal.”

Seven killer whales have been taken in the Sea of Okhotsk since late 2012. This new capture brings the overall total since 2002 to 15 orcas, according to a paper presented to the International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee in Slovenia in May.

“These are mostly Bigg’s or transient-type orcas who have been captured,” says Hoyt. “We don’t have any abundance estimates of orcas living in the Sea of Okhotsk, so these captures are being conducted in the dark and against the advice of killer whale scientists inside and outside of Russia.”

The killer whale scientists at the IWC committee meeting noted in their paper that “the live-capture of killer whales raises concerns because it targets the same local stock of transient killer whales in the western Okhotsk Sea. Russian officials deny the existence of killer whale ecotypes in the Russian Far East, and consequently do not manage fish-eating and mammal-eating killer whales as different management units. No reliable abundance estimates of either killer whale ecotype in the Okhotsk Sea are available.”

[Reference: Filatova, O.A., Shpak, O.V., Ivkovich, T.V., Borisova, E.A., Burdin, A.M., Hoyt, E. 2014. Killer whale status and live-captures in the waters of the Russian Far East. IWC Scientific Committee, Slovenia, 5pp (SC/65b/SM07)]