May 27, 2019
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Greenpeace activists call for release of killer whales to natural habitat

 Members of Greenpeace attend a rally for the release of illegally caught orcas and beluga whales from the so-called Primorye 'whale prison' in Moscow, Russia, 02 April 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/YURI KOCHETKOV

Members of Greenpeace attend a rally for the release of illegally caught orcas and beluga whales from the so-called Primorye 'whale prison' in Moscow, Russia, 02 April 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/YURI KOCHETKOV

Moscow, May 16 (efe-epa).- Greenpeace activists held a protest in Russia on Thursday to demand the release of scores of orca and beluga whales to their natural habitat from a so-called "whale jail."

Six activists used inflatable kayaks to install a large banner calling for the whales to be freed about 150 meters from the site where the cetaceans were being kept, according to a Greenpeace statement.

Russian activist Oganes Targulian said the killer whales “must be returned” to their natural habitat and not released into the “nearest bay,” where there was a risk of being recaptured and sent off to aquariums in China.

The rehabilitation and transfer of the orcas to the Shantar Islands could amount to about 100 million rubles ($1.55 million).

The director of the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Viacheslav Rozhnov, has said the authorities do not have a budget for an operation of that scale.

Greenpeace and other organizations have repeatedly called for the release of the whales to the area where they were captured, where the marine mammals would find themselves back in the right climate and feeding conditions for their survival.

Failure this to happen could be damaging to the orcas as well as Russia’s international image, according to Russian marine mammal expert Grigoriy Tsidulko.

The future of 87 beluga whales being held at the site is still unclear.

After six months of complaints, a lack of action and several whale deaths, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the government to find a solution with the Center for the Adaptation of Marine Mammals in a bay near the port of Nakhodka, bathed by the Pacific.

Conservation groups have for months warned of the precarious state of 87 belugas, 11 killer whales and five walrus pups. EFE-EPA

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