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New baby offers hope for endangered orca community

New baby offers hope for endangered orca community

On the morning of 30 May, off Tofino, British Columbia, Canada, an orca calf, complete...
What would you say to the remaining few North Atlantic right whales?

What would you say to the remaining few North Atlantic right whales?

North Atlantic right whales are on the brink of extinction. Fewer than 450 are left....
Please stop killing whales – WDC joins anti-whaling marches

Please stop killing whales – WDC joins anti-whaling marches

On Saturday, along with WDC colleagues, I braved the soaring temperatures and joined the march...
Whaling in Japan, who wins and who loses?

Whaling in Japan, who wins and who loses?

As the G20 global leaders meet in Japan, Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s CEO, Chris Butler-Stroud...
Did you know the International Whaling Commission is tackling dolphin deaths in nets?

Did you know the International Whaling Commission is tackling dolphin deaths in nets?

If you are aware of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) then you probably know it...
Orca Watch Scotland 2019 – the results are in!

Orca Watch Scotland 2019 – the results are in!

Orca Watch 2019 really had it all this year - wind, rain, some stunning sunsets...
Icelandic fin whales win a reprieve this summer

Icelandic fin whales win a reprieve this summer

I can’t tell you how delighted I am at the news that fin whales will...
Extinction emergency – we need action right now to save New Zealand dolphins

Extinction emergency – we need action right now to save New Zealand dolphins

Every year on 8 June we celebrate World Oceans Day - a day when we’re...

Update on Shanghai belugas

WDC (Whale and Dolphin Conservation) is continuing to work with Merlin Entertainments to identify a permanent solution to secure a better future for three belugas currently housed at Shanghai Oceanworld in China, including their possible release back into the sea.

Both WDC and Merlin remain committed to trying to give these belugas a more natural life. However, it has proven very challenging to find a safe and suitable site. Not least, because the removal of these whales from their current location, and possible placement back into the wild is a hugely complex logistical operation. The challenges involved have been highlighted recently when, having identified a potential location in Russia (after months of negotiation and a substantial amount of research), the site has proven unsuitable. Our team is now actively looking at alternative locations. This includes engaging with local, national and international decision-makers and other stakeholders to make this ambitious project a reality.

The belugas cannot simply be airlifted out of Shanghai and dropped into an ocean.  As with any whale or dolphin held for a length of time in captivity, the process requires a period of detailed assessment by an expert team to ascertain how suitable they are for transportation and release back into the wild.   Assuming this goes well, and the whales are suitable for release, this needs to be in an area where the belugas would naturally be found, there is minimal threat to their continued survival; and ideally there is a possibility that they could re-join a suitable natural population. Prior to release, the belugas will need to undergo possibly lengthy rehabilitation in a sanctuary-type environment that provides optimal conditions for their health and welfare. Developing the necessary infrastructure, bringing together the expert team and obtaining official approvals from the local, national and international authorities concerned can also be costly and complex. 

We will, of course, keep you updated on progress surrounding the latest negotiations.

Please support our work to protect whales and dolphins.

Cathy Williamson

About Cathy Williamson

Policy manager - End Captivity Programme Lead