Eleven orcas and twelve beluga whales have been released and sent back to their habitat in Russia’s Sea of Okhotsk after a year-long captivity in the Srednyaya Bay facility. Originally they were to be sold to China as show whales.
The International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute has been working together with Russian activists to permanently prohibit wild captures of cetaceans in the nation, as well as helping those released from the Whale Jail return to their home safely.
The activists, along with international opposition from scientists and celebrities, led the Russian government to block the sale of the whales to aquariums in China.
Several of the released orcas have managed to rejoin each other or others of their species. Female Vasilievna – from the first Whale Jail release in June – joined seven others to hunt seals together, a task tougher to complete if alone.