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Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Risso's dolphin entangled in fishing line and plastic bags - Andrew Sutton

The ocean is awash with plastic – can we ever clean it up?

You've seen pictures of plastic litter accumulating on beaches or marine wildlife swimming through floating...
Fin whale

Is this the beginning of the end for whaling off Iceland?

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic after Iceland's Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir wrote that there is little...
Mykines Lighthouse, Faroe Islands

Understanding whale and dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands – why change is not easy

Most people in my home country of the Faroe Islands would like to see an...

Dolphin scientists look like you and me – citizen science in action

Our amazing volunteers have looked out for dolphins from the shores of Scotland more than...
Atlantic white-sided dolphins

The Faroes dolphin slaughter that sparked an outcry now brings hope

Since the slaughter of at least 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður in my home...
Fin whale

From managing commercial slaughter to saving the whale – the International Whaling Commission at 75

Governments come together under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to make decisions...
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Minke whale hunts stop in Iceland

Iceland’s commercial hunt of minke whales has ended for this year. The common minke whale is the...
Port River dolphins

New report reveals 100,000 dolphins and small whales hunted every year

When you hear the words ‘dolphin hunts’ it’s likely that you think of Japan or...

End the whale hunts! Icelandic fin whaler isolated as public mood shifts

Here’s a sight I hoped never again to witness. A boat being scrubbed and repainted...

Australian Government to block Japanese whaling proposal

Japanese Government officials have reportedly confirmed that they will propose the resumption of commercial whaling...

Pregnant whales once again a target for Japanese whalers

Figures from Japan's whaling expedition to Antarctica during the 2017/18 austral summer have revealed that...

Did Icelandic whalers really kill a blue whale?

*Warning - this blog contains an image that you may find upsetting* They say a...

Icelandic whalers breach international law and kill iconic, protected whale by mistake

Icelandic whalers out hunting fin whales for the first time in three years appear to...

Doubts remain after Icelandic Marine Institute claims slaughtered whale was a hybrid not a blue

Experts remain sceptical of initial test results issued by the Icelandic Marine Institute, which indicate...

Japan set to resume commercial whaling

Reports from Japan suggest that the government they will formally propose plans to resume commercial...

Norway increases whaling quota despite declining demand

Norway's government has announced an increase in the number of minke whales that can be...

Icelandic fin whale hunting to resume

Iceland’s only fin whaling company, Hvalur hf,  announced today that it will resume fin whaling...

SOS alert for whales off Norway!

I have to admit to bitter disappointment when I arrived in Tromsø, northern Norway, a...

Whitefish – The cruelty behind Russian beluga whale trade

Born to Be Free, an impressive documentary exposing the devastating cruelty behind captive shows and the Russian trade in wild beluga whales, will air tonight on national TV in the UK and is well worth searching out if you live elsewhere.  

Not to be confused with the film classic Born Free from the 1960s, this documentary details the plight of captured belugas from Russia.

The fate of captive orcas has attracted much attention in the last few years due to the documentary, Blackfish, resulting in a public shift away from support for orca shows. But, aside from the long-standing US court battle involving the Georgia Aquarium’s attempts to obtain wild-caught belugas from Russia, the capture and captivity of beluga whales has not before been the subject of such public scrutiny.

It is the Aquarium’s controversial involvement in the continued capture of belugas from a depleted population in the Okhotsk Sea that is the focus of this brave and shocking film. Around 80 belugas are held captive in the United States alone, while China’s burgeoning aquarium industry holds well over 100, almost all of them wild-caught in Russia.

Like Blackfish, Born to be Free offers a glimpse of the glamorous shows in which belugas are presented to large audiences. Yet the living conditions of the belugas and other captive marine mammals are anything but glamorous or entertaining. The film includes rare footage of beluga captures and transport, including never before seen interviews with those involved.

Born to Be Free is a ground-breaking documentary brought to light by three young Russian women who travelled the world to trace the fate of 18 Russian belugas caught up in a cruel trade. It gives a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves and defend their freedom. Bringing the cruel practice of beluga captures in Russian waters to the public’s attention, along with the horrific holding conditions and the money-making facilities themselves is long overdue.

Born to Be Free, 7th Dec, Channel 4, 11.25pm.  

WDC is currently working with Merlin Entertainments to establish a sanctuary for beluga whales held in captivity.

Donate to help create a sanctuary.


Beluga in captivity