Russian marine welfare organization «Friends of the ocean» organized the first expedition to follow catching whale crew and provide public control of the capture process. During the expedition activists will identify methods of capturing, take photo and video materials to raise public awareness on reverse side of the aquariums industry which uses captive whales for entertainment purposes.
Such monitoring has never been done before and all previous captures were not monitored by independent organizations, so there is not public available information about quantity of captured, killed, survived during adaptation whales, confirmed by independent party.
Russia remains the only supplier of wild orcas to the aquariums. The reality is following - closing facilities for keeping whales in captivity in the West doesn’t decrease the pressure to wild populations. Entertainment industry based on captive whales is developing rapidly in China, which exports whales from Russia. The capture of orcas in Russia is allowed only for educational and scientific purposes, but in fact killer whales are exported to China for commercial purposes and public entertainment. The cost of a live killer whale is, at minimum, US $1-million, that make catching business more than profitable. 15 orcas were captured in Russia and sold to aquariums in China in the last 5 years. After many years of public outrage, dozens of letters to law enforcement agencies, this summer the General Prosecutor's Office finally launched an investigation into the illegal capture and sale of killer whales to China.
Despite the investigation, new quotas were still issued for capture of 13 orcas in 2018. That is why it was decided to organize urgent expedition to monitor the capture in the Sea of Okhotsk.
Activists hope that expedition will disclose details of cruel capture of killer whales, change situation and public opinion about aquarium industry based on entertainment with captive whales.
The captures are happening in the Far East of Russia in the remote location - Nikolaya Bay in the Sea of Okhotsk ( https://goo.gl/maps/BZxtCeA2KFS2 ). Capturing the whales for display has not only ethical context but brings killer whale to extinction. The transient killer whales of eastern Russia are the most threatened by the captures because there are fewer of them compared to resident killer whales, and because they’re easier to snatch since they feed closer to shore. Of the few thousand killer whales inhabiting eastern Russia, only a few hundred are transient. The quotas don’t differentiate between the two.