Monday, Feb 26 2024
All Cities
Choose Your City
'Siberia is indeed a land of superlatives: bigger than Europe and the US combined, with the biggest gas reserves in the world'

Let them go! Call to end the torture of killer and beluga whales

By 0 and 0 and 0
25 January 2019


One of the experts brought in by the FSB team for the inspection has warned that the Orcas - killer whales - are ‘dying’. Picture: Free Russian Whales

A video shows an inspection of the Centre of Marine Mammals Adaption in Srednyaya Bay near Nakhodka, previously named a Whale Jail by animal rights groups. 

More than 100 sea mammals are crowded into cramped encloses ahead of feared illegal export to China, conditions Greenpeace has previously called ‘torture’.

The mammals are destined for ocean theme parks in China, it is believed.

One of the experts brought in by the FSB team for the inspection has warned that the Orcas - killer whales - are ‘dying’.


Specialists from the Marine Mammal Council say they should be immediately released into the wild, so that they re-connect with their families.

Lora Beloivan, head of seals rescue centre near Vladivostok, said: ‘The check was organised by Primorsky department of FSB borderguards.

‘Along with the FSB team leading Russian specialists in biology, ecology and veterinary science went to inspect the site. 

‘At the time of our visit, the bay was not completely frozen but the whole ‘adaptation centre’ and the adjacent water area were covered with ice several centimetres thick. 

‘This is a big problem for open and covered enclosures, and the ‘adaptation centre’ workers make tremendous efforts to fight icing.' 

Whale jail in Nakhodka

Whale jail in Nakhodka

Whale jail in Nakhodka

Whale jail in Nakhodka

‘At the time of our visit, the bay was not completely frozen, but the whole ‘adaptation centre’ and the adjacent water area were covered with ice several centimetres thick.' Pictures: Free Russian Whales 

‘They are forced to use heat guns and water-accelerating compressors, and daily manually remove ice from enclosures.’

Beloivan said: ‘While beluga whales can live in an icy environment, it is absolutely impossible for them to get used to constant ice breaking and clearing so close to them. 

‘This work creates a lot of anxiety and is a potential source of severe stress which was confirmed by their behaviour when we saw them. 

‘Right during the inspection 12 people were simultaneously breaking ice and throwing bits of it over the fence.

‘The animals in that enclosure spent visibly more time underwater and moved a lot less active than the others. 

Several animals have visible changes on they skin, she said.

Changed skin colour and peeling in large pieces is not typical for Orcas. 

Orcas skin problems

Orcas skin problems

Orcas skin problems

Orcas skin problems

Changed skin colour and peeling in large pieces is not typical for Orcas. Pictures: Free Russian Whales

‘This kind of skin change may come as a result of hypothermia’, she said.

‘At least six out of 11 Orca whales have visible skin changes. 

‘Many of Beluga whales got strange dark spots around back of the neck and head.

‘Another big threat to animals is that there are no sanitation facilities - i.e. even basic mats soaked in disinfectant - to prevent spread of pathogenic micro-organisms.’

Whale jail in Nakhodka

Whale jail in Nakhodka

Whale jail in Nakhodka

Whale jail in Nakhodka

None of 90 (now 87) beluga whales has reached puberty. All 11 Orcas are babies. Pictures: Free Russian Whales

The full expert conclusion is to follow, but she said: ‘My personal opinion (and not only mine) is that the things are really bad. Orcas are dying.’

Currently there are 11 killer whales (Orcas), 87 beluga whales, 6 walruses, 9 bearded seals and about 50 spotted seals.

Recently three beluga whales were reported ‘missing’. 

None of 90 (now 87) beluga whales has reached puberty. Thirteen are less than one year old, it was established by the local Investigative Committee.

All eleven Orcas are babies. 

China is reported to have some 60 marine theme parks with another 12 under construction.

Comments (16)

Ted, you aren’t convincing anyone but yourself. i searched up ‘orca’s skin peeling’ and everything that comes up is SUNBURNS. not that it is natural but that it is a symptom of something bigger. you write paragraphs just to sugarcoat the fact you want to see more animals do tricks for you for you and your families amusement. it’s true marine parks are on the decline in America, and it’s for good reason. you pretty much wasted your own time writing paragraphs that does not actually back up your claims. it’s only an opinion piece, not fact
Natalie Non-ya, Louisiana
22/10/2021 17:23
No one needs to cage humans and force them to perform tricks to be fed just to help ticket-holding gawkers learn more about homelessness, or any other crisis. The same is true for cetaceans. There is no legitimate reason to capture, abuse, and imprison cetaceans for the amusement of another species. It is unnecessary to host animal trick shows to increase public awareness of threats to wildlife, and there are better ways to do so. These shows actually cause grave harms to cetaceans.

Cetaceans are highly intelligent social beings that travel constantly in territories that can encompass thousands of miles, and they spend their lives in extended family groups. The suffering of the pod is enormous when one member is taken by force, and the individual lives a Hellish existence penned in tiny spaces that cause constant mental and physical harm for no good reason.

Most U.S. residents know that animal shows are unnecessary, and harmful, except for profiteering corporate bosses. That is why animal shows have been on the decline there for a long time, and they may soon be illegal.
M Reede, Pacific NW, USA
08/02/2019 04:38
Regrettably, the paid and unpaid trolls appear to be here in force, promoting an unnecessary operation that provides no benefit to the animals who are captured and put on display for the cheap amusement of ignorant crowds and the profits of greedy men of damaged conscience. I wonder if the company being exposed in this article paid anyone to troll the comments here, including any of their own employees? That would be a great thing for a local journalist to investigate.

The quality of life of cetaceans is inexcusably damaged and shortened by being placed in captivity, as many people in the U.S. now understand. That is why animal performance venues are on the decline there.

All cetaceans are highly social, intelligent creatures that spend their entire lives living in extended family groups that are critical to their well-being and survival. They are accustomed to traveling for dozens of miles per day throughout territories that can encompass hundreds or thousands of miles. They are a critical part of the marine food chain, and we need every one that we have, because so many have been lost already to habitat and food depletion, premature death by pollutants and human-made waste items, and human predation.

Their is no ethical reason to capture and imprison cetaceans for entertainment purposes. It is unnecessary to do in order to educate the public about protecting critically threatened species, and these actions actively harm these species.
MK Reid, Pacific NW, USA
05/02/2019 09:19
David Robinson,

To succeed in a debate, the basic concept is to examine the presentation or 'argument' of the opposition, looking for inconsistencies, contradictions, and other fallacies ... and to expose these weaknesses to the audience.

This article about the captive whales in pens conveys the "call" of activists to set them free, arguing that the animals are being "tortured", they are "trapped" under the ice, and they are "dying".

The article includes several alarming-seeming photographs of the whale's skin coming off. Eww! The statement is made, "Changed skin colour and peeling in large pieces is not typical for Orcas".

A brief visit to Google, however, and a simple search using orca skin peeling, immediately shows that this is a well-known and normal phenomenon. These whales "molt", and "exfoliate" ... and this can become a cosmetic & public-relations issue, at Marine Parks. But it's just part of their adaptive biology.

This is how debate is done, effectively. To be effective, read carefully the claims & assertions being made. Do a little independent research. We should not, as our beloved Grandmother wisely warned, naively belief everything we read in the newspaper.

Yours in healthy debate,

Ted Clayton, Forks, Washington, USA
29/01/2019 21:29

Siberian Times -- I'm sorry to see this "Ted Clayton" spewing poisonous nonsense in your publication. Not everyone in the Pacific Northwest of the USA is a ranting fool. -- David Robinson
David Robinson, Seattle, Washington, USA
29/01/2019 12:28
Caroline questions, "Taking away the name of ENTERTAINMENT!"

Firstly, entertainment is not inherently bad or foul. We associate negative qualities with ('eww') entertainment, mainly because of mass-commercialization of passive viewing (of fake-behavior, acting), ie eg TV.

Secondly, although Freedom is most folk's top-value, most folks give-up & trade a lot of it, consistently and throughout their lives. At the top of the list, we work for money. There is some merit to the expression, "wage slave".

Couples, married or not, give up individual freedom, to support the partnership. Parents give up a lot of freedom, in the interests of their children. Our communities and our social-roles, are worthy investments for which we trade yet-more of our freedom.

Zoos involve the loss of freedom for the specimens. But these facilities provide valuable educational settings, especially for urban populations, and children. Marine Parks, Sea World etc, are a type of zoo.

Animals in confinement adapt mainly through feeding. As humans, we expect 3 square meals a day, plus snacks on-demand. In Nature, most animals trade most of their freedom to pursue food. Captive animals soon realize that their situation provides a steady supply of food, and when a certain person shows up, it means they are going to be fed. In their reality, it's not such a bad deal.

Most of the time, animals in zoos are "free" to do as they please, without having to pursue forage or prey ... which is a fleeting luxury in the wild.

Captive animals should be well & properly cared for, like our pets and livestock. But it's inaccurate and misleading, to imply that this is the same thing as human slavery.
Ted Clayton, Forks, Washington, USA
28/01/2019 20:39
MORAK Benedikjt,
Yes, the activist-story is full of inconsistencies & contradictions. It's incoherent & irrational ... it defies & denies too much of Reality.
We used to mock India, for it's Sacred Cows.
Ultimately, even plants are alive, and have babies. So even Vegans must Stop, too.
It is like a religion. Some thought that with Charles Darwin and Evolution, religions would retreat. Well, secular people who hold themselves above, 'eww', traditional religion now worship animals and trees and inanimate objects ... proclaim Dogma & Doctrine, as religion itself has done for thousands of years.
... Which is fine, for themselves. But to impose one's Beliefs on others, we know is wrong.
Ted Clayton, Forks, Washington, USA
27/01/2019 20:42
Taking away the name of ENTERTAINMENT!
Caroline, UK
27/01/2019 16:17
Ted Clayton,I have nothing more to add to your post! Seldom that one has the guts to speak out the truth! groups like PETA only go for protests that are highly visible but very controversial. why woman and furs only? why not a group of bikers and their leather jackets? why not EVERYONE who wears leather shoes, gloves made from goats skin, handbags made from crocodile leather? because they have it themselves and does not bring any publicity?
MORAK Benedikjt, Moscow
27/01/2019 08:45
Please let them all go. You are killing them slowly and cruelly.
lynn taylor, Australia
27/01/2019 06:17
"Molting" & "Exfoliation" is common and normal for Orcas, and Belugas

Go to Google and type in 'orca peeling skin'. It's normal.

No less than National Geographic offers:

See What Happens at a ‘Day Spa’ for Whales

Whales 'rub' ... all around the world, there are thousands of "whale rock" sites along the shore, where locals know whales come to pass back & forth & roll over suitable large rocks. They're rubbing off the loose dead skin.

So ... actually, all of the "experts" lending their acquiescence to the presentation of this peeling-phenomenon as a cause for concern, know that in truth, it isn't.
Ted Clayton, Forks, Washington, USA
27/01/2019 06:04
These animals are obviously suffering immensely. Baby orcas must be with family. These are like young children, their skin is peeling off with cold. Can you imagine how they feel. No mother, no family , only pain and frozen fish (which isnt their natural diet)
Humanity and ethics must stand here. Look at history an orca capture, The orcas then are now under threat as a whole generation was stolen for human greed. Save your orca now before its to late
Amber Stone, United Kingdom
27/01/2019 02:05
Please people who live in Russia call the authorities and try to ask if they can do something to stop the torture of the animals!!!!!

If people call them maybe they will do something... Thank you!
Fanni, Hungary
27/01/2019 01:00
Warm-spells are beneficial to humans, and the biosphere as well. Carbon dioxide is fertilizer for the plant-world. It's the cool-spells that are hard on everyone.

During the most recent cool-spell that ended in the late-1970s, the former Soviet Union was profoundly humiliated to find it necessary to accept large grain-shipments from its arch-rival, the United States. Growing-conditions had deteriorated in northern bread-baskets, world wide. Indeed, there is a strong case that it was really more a matter of this post-War cool-spell that 'softened up' Russia sufficient that they threw in the towel on their Empire-project ... and less so the admittedly sparkling rhetoric of US Pres. Ronald Reagan.

Mild alternating cool-and-warm spells that generally run 3-4 decades each, are a basic pattern of the climate. We're now due to swing cool, again.

Just as Greenpeace and animal-activists have a hard time gaining Democratic traction for their perceptions & politics, so too climate-activists busily fudging the data aren't fooling Mother Nature.
Ted Clayton, Forks, Washington, USA
26/01/2019 03:38
Free the Orca and whales they have their Own Lives their Own families their Own Right to a Free from slavery life. Never should humans abuse them to “see” them and no one has the right to condemn another into slavery which is exactly what it is - activists do great works and are the ONLY humane decent non abusers non slavers - the political systems encourages animal abuse after all society has been Built on it and people love to see suffering animals and to treat them like toys - if they didnt then no cruelty would exist! Climate Change is well deserved as is human extinction and its hilarius that the Cost the only Action to save human life IS kindness to animals - well played Planet Earth
Yvonne luscombe , Uk
25/01/2019 21:45

Add your comment

We welcome a healthy debate, but do not accept offensive or abusive comments. Please also read 'Siberian Times' Privacy Policy



Add your comments

The views expressed in the comments above are those of our readers. 'Siberian Times' reserves the right to pre-moderate some comments.

Control code*

Type the code

* obligatory



The Bank of Russia official exchange rates of foreign currencies