Help Stop Beluga Whale Import Into USHelp us stop 18 whales being condemned to imprisonment and an early death
The US Georgia Aquarium is seeking to import 18 wild-caught white whales - belugas - from the Sea of Okhotsk, Russia. Belugas in this area 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.
WDCS rejects these excuses
The commercial display industry 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 is a known stressor 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.
They 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 any natural life-in-the-wild expectancy.
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 take 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 WDCS 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 further exploited – and their individual members made to suffer – to continue a failed practice.
- 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.
How can you help?
Send our e-protest letter and let the Georgia Aquarium know that you will not tolerate removing belugas from the wild that results in the destruction of their families and contributes to the suffering of belugas everywhere.
Tell them that you oppose these imports for the following reasons:
1. It’s just not necessary to have belugas in captivity for people to appreciate them or want to protect them.
2. Under US regulations, any proposed activity that results in unnecessary risk to the health and welfare of marine mammals is a violation of the US Marine Mammal Protection Act.
This import poses unnecessary risk because:
*The import requires an extremely stressful and prolonged transport over thousands of miles and multiple transfers between planes and ground vehicles.
*Captures are violent, and may cause distress, physical harm, and even death to not only those animals captured, but for the ones left behind.
*It is unacceptable that US facilities are turning to the capture of wild-caught belugas in other countries, but would not conduct such activities in US waters because of the public’s aversion to such unacceptable practices. There have been no captures of wild dolphins in U.S. waters since 1993, mainly because of public pressure and opposition.
Send your e-protest to the Georgia Aquarium now.