18 wild-caught Beluga Whales have been sitting for years in a holding facility awaiting their final destination. These animals were originally caught by the Utrishskiy delphinarium with the intent to export for public display at the Georgia Aquarium and several other American Marine-park facilities. The permit for importation was denied on August 5th, 2013 now leaving the fate of these whales up in the air.
We are petitioning the Russian department of Fisheries and the Utrishskiy delphinarium to first allow a panel of experts to assess and evaluate the health and well-being of these mammals. We are then asking that pending the health of each Beluga, the team be granted permission to rehabilitate and release these animals back into the ocean, where they belong. We are well aware that some of these Beluga Whales may be deemed unfit for release, and we are asking that the Utrishskiy delphinarium consult the expert panel to make the right decision on the type of facility these animals may end up residing in.
We feel these animals have endured enough stress just with their capture alone to last a lifetime. Many successful programs have allowed wild-caught captives to be released back into the ocean. Keiko the Killer Whale, although deemed unhealthy initially, still endured many years of intensive rehabilitation and he was able to thrive in the wild for many years quite happily. Tom and Misha, two wild-caught captive dolphins, are still doing well in the ocean after their rehabilitation and release over a year later. Just recently three wild-caught captive dolphins in South Korea were recently rehabilitated and then released by a team of experts. It is reported that all three dolphins are healthy and thriving. The same could go for these Beluga's; the Utrishskiy delphinarium and Russian Department of Fisheries has a unique opportunity to release these mammals back into the ocean. They will forever be praised for their efforts for doing the right thing for these mammals.