Orcas held in Russian whale jail face threat from ice

The 11 orcas captured last year for sale to China and currently held along with 87 beluga whales in small sea pens described as a ‘whale jail’ near Vladivostok, may start dying after many have reportedly developed frostbite.

As temperatures begin to drop at the site, ice is starting to form on the surface of the water which staff there are now having to break up each day.

Russian whale jail from the air
Russian whale jail from the air

All of the whales kept at the ‘whale jail’ were taken last summer from the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan, to then be sold to dolphinaria. It is the largest number of marine mammals to be held in this way, and prosecutors are said to be investigating whether the orcas and belugas are being kept in the tiny enclosures illegally.

Orcas are warm-blooded marine mammals, spending most of their time underwater. Kept in the confines of the freezing pens, they run the risk of not being able to regulate their body temperature or move a freely as they need to stay alive.

WDC is working to establish a sanctuary for beluga whales held in captivity – read more.

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