2006 report presages Georgia Aquarium effort to import wild-caught beluga whales

In gathering materials for the upcoming public comment period on the Georgia Aquarium’s application to import 18 wild-caught beluga whales into the United States, I have been trying to decide how to best catalogue and file the articles, blogs, and reports.

Well, I don’t have any words of wisdom there.

Adult and baby beluga whale

Adult and baby beluga whale, photo from The Telegraph

BUT.  I think the easiest thing is for me is to post the “chercest” bits here.  With or without commentary.

A short excerpt from a 2006 report by William Rossiter presaged the current effort by the Georgia Aquarium to import 18 wild-caught beluga whales into the United States:

The bad news is that NMFS wants to ignore that Gasper and Nico had been captured in Russia. Their shadowed past includes the brutal, inhumane but officially permitted Russian beluga capture operations that should have made their import to the US illegal under animal welfare laws. However, their import was proposed and promoted for humane reasons only, a one-time “rescue” necessary for their survival from a truly horrible situation. But when the time came NMFS issued an import permit and supporting documents minimizing humane concerns. The permit may have been intended instead to facilitate future imports of Russian-caught belugas or their progeny. An open door for Russian beluga imports would persuade the Russians to make more brutal captures, making NMFS complicit in future deaths and suffering. NMFS chose to ignore video and other evidence of the incredibly brutal Russian capture operation, insisting that specific evidence had to be submitted for each beluga up for an import permit. NMFS knows that evidence about any captures is hard to get, and much import data is incomplete.

So much for “rescuing” Gasper, captured in Russia, 1997, died January 2, 2007; and Nico, captured in Russia, 1997(?), died October 31, 2009.  Thanks to Ceta-base for maintaining the Beluga whale database.

Read Beluga Misadventures, by William Rossiter, published in Cetacean Society International, Whales Alive!, Vol. XV, No. 4, October 2006, and get geared up for the first

Urgent Call to Action

to show support for wild, free beluga whales, to be held on Saturday, July 21, from noon to 3 p.m. at the main entrance of the Georgia Aquarium.  Tell the event hosts that you will be coming.

Leave a Reply