Russian Captive Whales Returned to Their Ocean Homes

February 10, 2020

Last November, the Russian Government completed the return of 10 orcas and 87 belugas back to the ocean after they had been illegally captured off Russia for sale to theme parks in China. It is the largest animal rescue effort ever attempted.

I am very pleased that I could assist their efforts, along with Charles Vinick, the Executive Director of the Whale Sanctuary Project, and an international team of experts.

There is so much to be thankful for following this successful project. First and foremost, the whales that were taken from their families and ocean homes have been returned to the region where they were captured. They will not end up in concrete pools performing tricks for the rest of their lives. Some of the whales were tagged and they are being tracked and monitored to ensure their successful reintroduction.

The collaboration between our international team and the Russians to complete the largest animal rescue ever attempted is symbolic of what we can accomplish when we work together. We look forward to future cooperation with everyone involved.

I have no doubt that the captive whales and their families suffered greatly during this ordeal. They were brutally captured and then transported on ships over a thousand miles and placed in holding pens. The pens were shallow and cramped, and the freezing temperatures caused the surface waters to freeze. They were held there for over a year. I am so grateful to the Russians for returning them back to the ocean.

But this cruel scheme to capture whales for sale to theme parks has heightened the awareness of people all over the world and this gives me great hope. If not for millions of vocal Russian activists who campaigned to block the sale of the captive whales we may never have known that whales were being sold. With the help of social media, this well publicized project to the return the whales has captured the attention, and more importantly, the hearts of millions of people all over the world. Collectively, we will no longer allow these highly intelligent, emotionally advanced marine mammals to be taken from the ocean and sold into captivity. We call on all countries to ban the take of marine mammals for the entertainment industry.

We should learn about and study these amazing creatures in the open ocean, in their home, where they belong.

Thank you to all of you, our supporters, for your efforts to make the world a better place. I am confident that together we are making a difference.

Protect The Ocean And You Protect Yourself.



Jean-Michel Cousteau
President, Ocean Futures Society

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