Time is running out - help save 18 belugas from a life in captivity
What is the problem?
The Georgia Aquarium in the US is seeking to import 18 wild-caught white whales (belugas) from the Sea of Okhotsk, Russia.
WDC believes these whales are not suited to the stress of being transported thousands of miles from their home waters, to spend the rest of their lives imprisoned in a concrete tank for our entertainment.
The final decision as to whether the import will be allowed to go ahead will be made by the US government authority responsible for these issues. But YOU can help influence their decision.
Until October 29th, you can leave comments on their website and tell the US authorities why you think they should reject the application to import the belugas. There is already enormous opposition to the import, including from the Sea Life Centres. The more comments we get, the more likely it is we can get it rejected. A few moments of your time could save the 18 whales from a lifetime in a tank.
How do I make my comments?
Simply use this link which will take you direct to the website. Click on the blue 'Comment Now' button and then fill in your details. Or copy and paste the following into your browser:
Here are some key points you might want to raise along with your own personal message:
Brutally removing the belugas from the wild and transporting them thousands of miles into the US for public display is unnecessary, inhumane and threatens wild beluga populations. It has nothing to do with conservation.
If approved, the import will contribute to the unsustainable and cruel international trade in belugas.
Conservation means protecting species in the wild, not capturing them for captivity. Beluga populations in Russia have been decimated by over-hunting, and the same populations are also targeted for capture, preventing their recovery.
The whales were caught first and held in pens before any application to import them was made. By capturing the belugas first, and then asking for permission later, the Georgia Aquarium has unfairly prejudiced the permitting application and process.
The Georgia Aquarium’s permit application does not meet regulatory requirements and must be denied.
Background to the campaign
Belugas in Russia were subject to intensive hunting until the early 1960s and the population is still recovering.
The excuse for the import request is that the captive beluga collection makes an important contribution to marine conservation and public education, and is necessary to maintain the captive breeding population in the US. They plan to use Russian transport planes to carry the whales to Belgium – where the whales will undergo multiple transfers between shipment containers and airplanes before flying to the US and becoming the 'property' of the Georgia Aquarium. This will subject the whales to considerable stress. Man-made noise like jet engines causes stress for whales, which have very sensitive hearing. It is simply not acceptable to put the whales through this – it is inhumane and violates the US Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The whales will be subjected to attempts at ‘breeding.’ Yet, despite five decades of effort, the captive beluga breeding programme has been unsuccessful. As a result, the commercial captive industry seeks new whales to replenish its ‘stocks’.
The belugas’ life ‘on display’ will probably be a short one. Belugas in the wild can live up to 50 or 60 years. In captivity, they rarely live beyond 30 and frequently do not pass 25. Why? There are no predators, hazards, or food shortages in captivity and captive belugas have veterinary care. Yet, on average, they die long before those in the wild.
Captivity itself appears to ‘kill’ whales. Given poor breeding success in captivity, stress is a highly probable culprit. And, if they go to the US there is every chance they will be ‘replaced’ in their current holding pens in Russia with another capture of wild belugas.
Georgia Aquarium claims that the belugas they are importing would have been captured and shipped to other locations regardless of their permit request. In fact, these animals were sourced for these US facilities, making them complicit in the ongoing capture and international trade in belugas.
What does WDC want?
A firm ‘no’ to the import of more belugas into the US, and an end to the devastating international trade in belugas and other whales and dolphins.
The wild beluga populations in Russia should not be exploited and made to suffer.
The belugas should not go to the US, they should be returned to the wild as part of a phased, well planned rehabilitation or sanctuary programme.