Russia has dismantled a notorious facility dubbed the “whale jail” that held dozens of these mammals in overcrowded conditions., which sparked an international outcry.
Almost 100 whales were kept in the secret facility in the Srednyaya bay, near the eastern city of Nakhodka, in 2018, before being released after an intense campaign for animal rights and environmental groups in 2019.
The animals were captured to perform in aquariums.
The environmental prosecutor’s office for the Amur basin – in the Russian Far East – said Thursday that the jail had been completely dismantled.
“In order to avoid the illegal possession of marine animals, the floating structures were dismantled”reported in a statement.
The structure of the prison had been transferred to a shipyard “in a state that excludes the possibility of its use for its purpose”.
Environmental groups celebrated the move.
“Should have been done long ago”, said Dmitry Lisitsyn, director of the NGO Sakhalin watch, who led the campaign against prison.
“We made great efforts to close it and release the whales,” he said.
All the whales held in jail, including 77 belugas, are now at large.
Lisitsyn said that the operation to release them was “very difficult”, since most were young that were not adapted to life in the wild.
They went through a rehabilitation program before being released into the Sea of Okhotsk, which separates the peninsulas of the eastern tip of Russia from Japan.
Lisitsyn indicated that the jail was the only known facility of its kind in Russia, but that the country has other places that keep large marine animals in “terrible” conditions for performances in oceanariums.
Many of the whales held at the Sredyaya Bay facility were to be shipped to china aquariums.
(With information from AFP)
Is a conversation between humans and whales possible?
Video: moving rescue of two beached whales in the Partido de La Costa
A southern whale and her calf were filmed 300 meters off the coast of Punta del Este