WDCS has launched a campaign to try to block the Georgia Aquarium in the US from importing 18 wild-caught beluga whales from the Sea of Okhotsk, Russia.
The Aquarium has stated that this import would make an important contribution to marine conservation and public education, and is necessary to maintain the captive breeding population in the US.
However, the population of belugas in this area are still recovering from intensive hunting which took place up to the early 1960s and WDCS rejects the claims by the Georgia Aquarium, which could also be in violation of the US Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The whales will be subjected to considerable levels of stress if plans to transport them by plane from Russia to Belgium, and then on to the US, go ahead . They will undergo multiple transfers between shipment containers and airplanes before flying to the US and becoming the property of the Georgia Aquarium. WDCS believes that it is simply not acceptable to put the whales through this inhumane and life-threatening process.
Once at the aquarium in Georgia, the belugas will be subjected to attempts at breeding despite the fact that a captive beluga breeding programme has been unsuccessful over the past five decades. This failure is the real reason that the commercial captive industry is now seeking new imports of whales to replenish its ‘stocks’
If they do survive the transportation from Russia, a life in captivity for the whales will probably lead to an early death. Belugas in the wild can live up to 50 or 60 years. In captivity, they rarely live beyond 30 and frequently do not pass 25. If they are imported to the US it is also likely that the holding pens in Russia will then be restocked with yet more wild belugas.
WDCS is calling on the public to let the Georgia Aquarium know that these imports are wrong and should not go ahead.