Three orcas (killer whales) have been captured in the Okhotsk Sea in the Russian Far East, according to sources at the Far East Russia Orca Project (FEROP). The first one, captured in early July, was moved through Sakhalinsky Bay on July 15, 2015. Since then, two more have been captured, also thought to have been caught in Sakhalinsky Bay.
Of the three, two have been captured by TINRO, the Russian Pacific Scientific Research Fisheries Center, based in Vladivostok in charge of coordinating fisheries research in the Russian Far East (Pacific) waters. The other one was caught by a local team thought to be hired by either by the White Sphere/White Whale/Aquatoria group of companies or by Primorsky Aquarium in Vladivostok which opens its new facility this autumn.
These captures contravene expert advice. In October 2013, the world’s orca scientists and Russia’s ‘State Ecological Expertise’ of marine mammal scientists advised that a zero quota to capture killer whales be given. This advice was refused in 2014. TINRO recommended keeping the quota at 10 as in previous years. We still don’t know population sizes of these orca ecotypes and communities in the Okhotsk Sea. If previous orca captures that occurred in the US, Canada and other countries are any indication, we may be seeing entire pods and communities being disrupted for decades, or even removed entirely.