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Wild Capture Continues: Two More Orcas Were Taken From The Waters Off Russia


While backlash against keeping orca whales and other marine mammals in captivity grows around the world, some countries are still participating in wild capture of orcas for marine parks. Russia reportedly caught two of these whales in late July - this coming after the country allowed the capture of two other wild orcas earlier in the season. Erich Hoyt, Research Fellow with Whale and Dolphin Conservation and author of "Orca: The Whale Called Killer," reported the news:

Two orcas captured in mid-July, already reported, have since been shipped to China. Now we have learned that two more orcas were captured in late July. The legality of these captures is still in question as the capture quotas for 2014, for 10 more orca captures, were only issued 4th August.

The quota Hoyt mentions was issued by the Russian government in August, allowing potential captors to apply for permits to catch 10 more orcas in the Okhotsk Sea in 2014. Conservationists and whale scientists opposed the quota, calling it "surprisingly high."

It usually takes about 6 to 8 weeks for a permit and to mount a capture operation. While the quota was only issued Aug. 4, Whale and Dolphin Conservation says that the captures reportedly took place in July.

One paper that was presented to the International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee in Slovenia last May noted that wild orca captures can hurt the population, because there is not enough data on the whale population in that part of the world to support wild capture:

The live-capture of killer whales raises concerns because it targets the same local stock of transient killer whales in the western Okhotsk Sea. Russian officials deny the existence of killer whale ecotypes in the Russian Far East, and consequently do not manage fish-eating and mammal-eating killer whales as different management units. No reliable abundance estimates of either killer whale ecotype in the Okhotsk Sea is available.

For now, Hoyt is asking the Russian fisheries inspectors to provide a factual account of the orcas taken as well as to report essential biological information about each whale. He also hopes to find out whether permits were in place for the captures.

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