Whales, Orcas being held in potentially illegal 'whale jails' near Russia

A group of 11 orca and 90 beluga whales are reportedly being held in tiny 'whale jails' just off the coast of Russia.

The fate of these whales has activists' concerned, as they're said to most likely be sold illegally to Chinese water parks and aquariums.

It's the largest number of sea mammals to be held in a temporary enclosure ever and some have been there since July.

According to Russian newspaper Novaya Gazetta, the same companies that own the containers previously sold whales to China between 2013 and 2016.

Despite the act of hunting whales commercially being banned since 1982, apart from educational and scientific reasons, Chinese water parks have historically paid upwards of US$6 million for them.

The companies holding the whales currently were allowed to catch 10 whales between 2012 and 2015 for education, but seven were exported to China.

Russian authorities called on the Interior Ministry earlier this year to launch a fraud investigation into the companies over the capture and sale of the whales.

According to the Telegraph, the containers which the animals are being kept in are - in some cases - sized for calves, which are completely forbidden to be captured, even for science and research.

A video taken by a Russian journalist shows a crane moving one of the whales for transportation. 

The conditions the whales are reportedly being kept in have also ben condemned by Greenpeace Russia, which labels the captivity "torture".

The Telegraph reports that according to Greenpeace Russia's Oganes Targulyan, although the law permits the capture of 13 killer whales per year, no one is taking into account that at least one orca is killed for every one that is caught.

In some areas of Russia, orcas are now considered an endangered species.

There are only 74 southern resident orcas left in the world.


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