More Than 100 Whales Trapped In Secret 'Jail' Discovered In Russia
Drone footage has captured potentially illegal enclosures-- what activists are now calling a "whale jail"-- holding more than 100 whales in Russia.
The marine containment facility, located near the city of Nakhodka in the country's south-east, was discovered by a Russian news network.
Russian prosecutors are currently investigating whether the detainment of whales is for commercial purposes, specifically the suspected sale to Chinese theme parks.
China currently has about 60 marine parks and aquariums, with at least a dozen more reportedly under construction.
If the whales are being prepared for this purpose, the facility is in violation of laws which prohibit the buying and selling of cetaceans for entertainment. An international moratorium on commercial whale hunting in 1982 ruled that the animals may only be captured for scientific and education work.
The collection of whales, which is said to consist of 90 beluga whales and 11 orcas, can be seen crammed together in small underwater cages formed by nets.
According to the Russian news site VL.ru, which obtained photos of the holding pens, the "jail" is monitored by armed men.
Local media also published footage of a crane lifting whales from one tank to another. Activists believe this is to prepare whales for shipping.
The whales are reportedly believed to have been captured by four companies -- LLC Oceanarium DV, LLC Afalina, LLC Bely Kit and LLC Sochi Dolphinarium.
These companies are believed to be largely unregulated, cornering the market for capturing and exporting animals.
An individual orca can reportedly fetch up to US$6 million on the black market.