Animal lovers around the world have been waiting anxiously for updates on two orcas destined for display in Sochi, the 2014 Winter Olympics host city. One of the whales, a young female named Narina, was captured in August 2012 by a consortium of companies known as White Sphere off Russia’s coast in the Sea of Okhotsk. A year later, a young male was captured in September 2013, and just a couple months after, both orcas were transported to Moscow.
Since the transport, barely any clear news surfaced about these two captivity victims, but now, Erich Hoyt, research fellow and head of Global Marine Protected Areas Program at Whale and Dolphin Conservation, has confirmed that Narnia and her male companion will not be on display in Sochi during the Olympics. What’s more, no dolphin will carry an Olympic torch, as was originally planned.
On Facebook, Hoyt writes, “Both of these confirmed by the President, Sochi Olympic Committee. There had been a plan to send orcas to Sochi (but not necessarily for the Olympics) in early December but it was postponed. The Sochi Dolphinarium was involved in the capture of the 7 orcas in the Okhotsk Sea in 2013 so at some point they might be expected to take delivery. For now, at least 2 orcas, including Narnia, are staying in small pens in Moscow while others have gone to China. No orcas are performing yet in Russia or China and we suppose they are now being trained for the circus shows.”
Perhaps we can all breathe a little sigh of relief with this news, yet unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that these two orcas and six others were captured for the purposes of captivity in marine parks — and that’s really nothing to celebrate. Additionally, Sochi is not quite off the hook since, as we reported earlier this week, the city is still carrying out its cull of stray animals despite local and international outrage (take action to help stop the cull by supporting this petition campaign by Humane Society International).
Now, with all this information, you might just want to slam your hands down on the keyboard in frustration, however there is a glimmer of hope — more people than ever before are getting behind orcas and lending their voices to them to highlight their plight, and this is certainly something to celebrate. So, let’s keep up the good work and keep the pressure on governmental bodies to bring an end to orca capture and captivity everywhere — we can do it!
Image source: Russian Orcas / Facebook