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A “whale prison” has been discovered by a drone flying over Russia’s Pacific coast. Footage emerged of a strange string of tiny enclosures where over 101 cetaceans appear to be being held. According to reports, 11 orcas and 90 belugas are in the sea pens.


Whale and Dolphin Conservation, a wildlife advocacy group, claims it’s “the largest number of marine animals to be held in such a way,” and prosecutors are investigating whether the whales are being held illegally.

IFLScience reports that it’s possible the whales have been captured in order to be sold to Chinese theme parks. According to the Telegraph, marine theme parks are booming in China, with 60 parks already in operation and a dozen more under construction.

In 1982, an international law was passed to ensure that cetaceans were only to be captured for scientific purposes, although a few countries ignore those laws. Four companies are renting the enclosures in Russia. The Telegraph reported that those companies exported 13 orcas to China in a three-year span between 2013 and 2016.

“The size of enclosures and the number of orcas and belugas spotted also suggests that the tanks may contain infants, activists say – a practice that is completely off limits, even for scientific and educational purposes,” wrote Alec Luhn, a Moscow reporter for the Telegraph. “Experts worry that the scale of this activity is not just damaging for the cetaceans held in the enclosures but for the species’ future.”


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