After a meeting today of the Consilium of the Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO), Deputy Director Vyacheslav Bizikov announced that the orcas and beluga whales who are being held in sea pens in Srednyaya Bay are in satisfactory condition health-wise.
“The general recommendation of the scientists now is that the whales should be released around the same location where they were captured,” Bizikov said, referring to the northwest region of the Sea of Okhotsk.
The recommendation of the Consilium mirrors the assessment that the Jean-Michel Cousteau / Whale Sanctuary Project team delivered to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment last week, in which we stated:
“Preliminary results of the behavioral analyses conducted by the Team show that all orcas and belugas in the holding facility at Srednyaya Bay can be rehabilitated and released. The Team has not identified any scientific reasons why any individual animals cannot be rehabilitated and released.”
The Consilium recommends that none of the whales should be released before June because the northwest area of the Sea of Okhotsk will still have ice cover until then.
As a result of this recommendation, we look forward to working with Russian authorities and scientists to formulate strategies for the release of the whales, starting with a complete analysis of what each individual whale in Srednyaya Bay will need for the purposes of rehabilitation, re-adaptation and then release back to the wild.