Russia frees belugas from ‘whale jail’
Russian authorities said yesterday they had completed the release of dozens of captured beluga whales whose plight sparked an appeal by Hollywood celebrities and the intervention of President Vladimir Putin. The mammals, caught last year to be sold to marine parks or aquariums in China, were being kept in cramped conditions in a bay near the Pacific port of Nakhodka, along with 11 orcas. Russian media described their enclosures as a “whale jail”. The plight of the orcas, which were being held with 87 beluga whales, triggered an international outcry and celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio supported a petition that drew nearly 1.5 million signatures calling for their return to the ocean.