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Looking out for orcas from the Scottish north coast – Orca Watch 2019

Looking out for orcas from the Scottish north coast – Orca Watch 2019

Orca Watch week is now in its eighth year and is run by the Sea...
How cigarette butts pollute the ocean and harm whales and dolphins

How cigarette butts pollute the ocean and harm whales and dolphins

Today is World No Tobacco Day and you could be forgiven for wondering what that’s...
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...
My amazing time as a WDC volunteer researcher on the Welsh island of Bardsey

My amazing time as a WDC volunteer researcher on the Welsh island of Bardsey

WDC has a long-running research project studying the dolphins and porpoises who make their homes...
Marine tourism and keeping dolphins safe

Marine tourism and keeping dolphins safe

We use the waters around the UK commercially and for fun. But all this human...
Will Japan’s new emperor bring new hope for whales?

Will Japan’s new emperor bring new hope for whales?

This week, Japan's Emperor Akihito offered his formal abdication to the Japanese people and delivered...
Paradise lost? Extraordinary encounters with sperm whales

Paradise lost? Extraordinary encounters with sperm whales

A magical sperm whale encounter One morning back in 2015,  in an ocean devoid of...

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