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This Is The Frightening Place Where 100 Wild Whales Are Locked Up

“It is the ‘whale prison,’ but these belugas and orcas didn’t commit any crime.”

The open ocean was only a few yards away, but the wild belugas couldn’t reach it. Instead, they were trapped in tiny sea pens, where all they could do was only swim in circles.

Russian traders recently captured 90 belugas and 11 orcas from the ocean with the intention of selling them to marine parks, dolphinariums and swim-with-the-dolphin programs in China. While they work to secure buyers, the belugas and orcas are being kept in a network of tiny sea cages in Srednyaya Bay, near Nakhodka, Russia — and new drone footage has revealed the poor living conditions in these enclosures.

“The footage speaks for itself,” Oxana Fedorova, founder of Save Dolphins, a Russian organization that helps marine animals, told The Dodo. “It is the ‘whale prison,’ but these belugas and orcas didn’t commit any crime.”

“It was absolutely heartbreaking to see these poor babies confined in such small enclosures, swimming in circles,” Fedorova added. “I can’t stop thinking about what they are going through.”

While the video clearly shows the distinctive white bodies of the belugas, the orcas aren’t visible — it’s believed they’re being kept in one of the covered sea pens.

“They don’t want anyone to see them,” Fedorova said. “People who work at this facility are very aggressive. They even attacked a local animal activist last week and stole a memory card with pictures from her camera.”

It’s also possible that some belugas are being kept in transportation tanks, rather than the open sea pens, Fedorova explained.

To Fedorova, one of the most disturbing things about this issue is that the animals are quite young.

“This footage raises concern over sustainability of such capture,” Fedorova said. “You can see 90 babies that were just taken from the wild, most likely from one population. How will this population reproduce when babies are being captured in such numbers every year? If the capture doesn’t stop, both belugas and orcas will be on the road to extinction, if not already.”

Fedorova hopes the footage will be widely shared through Russian and international media, and that the public will speak up on behalf of these captive belugas and orcas.

“We hope it will create huge backlash to stop the export of this amazing creatures to China or any other country, and ban the capture once and for all,” Fedorova said. “Several Russian groups are working together and trying to push for a complete ban on capture.”

To help put a stop to the trade of wild belugas and orcas, you can sign this petition.