This is the grim reality of the aquarium business. Dozens of orcas and belugas, caught over the span of several months in 2018, are being held captive in cramped enclosures on Russia’s Pacific coast – awaiting their transfer to Chinese aquariums where their future will doubtfully become any less bleak.
One of the 98 whales being held in freezing Russian waters has gone missing. As a result, President Putin has told authorities that they must determine the fate of the remaining whales within one week https://t.co/8wxR0zox02
— National Geographic (@NatGeo) February 22, 2019
Water temperatures around this time will rarely ever go above freezing and as they await their fate in tiny, enclosed cages, the whales are exposed to both the risk of freezing and death by infection. Marine scientists have noticed lesions suggesting frostbite or other bacterial infections caused from the enclosed, stagnant waters of the ‘whale jails’ – a harrowing yet apt name given by the media in recent weeks.
#Orcas & belugas are being held captive in small cages in a Russian bay. A winter cold snap is freezing the bay: the lives of these whales hang in the balance.
— Change.org Canada (@CdnChange) February 25, 2019
The whales are in a kind of legal limbo as they await their fate. The most ideal outcome is that Russian authorities seize the animals and rehabilitate them before releasing back into their rightful habitats – the wild. The other is that a court may rule that the companies behind the ‘whale jails’ didn’t act illegally in which case they’ll be sold and shipped to Chinese aquariums.
They could also very likely die in the meantime.
Please sign this petition and join me in speaking out against the inhumane capture of orcas and belugas in Russia. https://t.co/OED9zJ9fnz
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) February 26, 2019
In light of the growing legal limbo that’s ensued, Leo turned to Twitter to call for signatures on a petition to force Russian authorities to free the animals. The petition has so far received nearly 900,000 signatures but there’s still no sure sign on what the next course of action will be. Putin has ordered the Russian environmental and agricultural ministers to determine the fate of the whales by Friday March 1st.
Here’s to hoping something is done soon. Stay tuned for updates.
Image Source: Leonardo Dicaprio Facebook, Unsplash, @LeoDiCaprio Twitter, @CdnChange Twitter, @NatGeo Twitter.