Russia’s notorious “whale jail” is no more.
In November of 2018, conservationists shared drone footage of a huge whale enclosure in Russia’s Far East coast. An estimated 10 orcas and 87 beluga whales were once held at the facility, which consisted of cramped, ice-covered enclosures in a gloomy bay near the Pacific port of Nakhodka.
The unveiling of the enclosures led to a huge international backlash, so much so that President Vladimir Putin himself asked his government to investigate the whale closures. Following a lengthy investigation, prosecutors eventually deemed the enclosures illegal and ordered the company to release the whales. Now, finally, the last of the belugas housed at the “whale jail” has been released.
The whales have since been steadily released in several batches starting in early summer, with the last of the orcas being freed in August. On November 10, 2019, authorities stated that the release of the last belugas into the Bay of Uspeniya had been completed successfully. While the situation is far from ideal, these whales would have faced a worse fate had they remained in the enclosure.