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Third Group of Orcas From 'Whale Jail' Released Into Wild

© AP Photo / NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science CenterAn orca whale swims with other whales in the Pacific Ocean near the mouth of the Columbia River near Ilwaco, Washington
An orca whale swims with other whales in the Pacific Ocean near the mouth of the Columbia River near Ilwaco, Washington - Sputnik International
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KHABAROVSK, Russia (Sputnik) – The third group of orcas from the so-called whale jail in Russia's Far East was set free into the Sea of Okhotsk, near Cape Perovsky, on Tuesday, Oganes Targulyan, the leading expert of Greenpeace, said.

On Friday, vehicles with three orcas from Srednyaya Bay arrived in the city of Khabarovsk where the animals were reloaded onto vessels and sent along the Amur River to the settlement of Innokentyevka. The orcas were sent to Cape Perovsky from Innokentyevka per vehicles.

“The orcas were released into wild. That took place at 11:40 [01:40 GMT] on Tuesday. They are now moving together, we are filming them from a copter,” Targulyan said.

Before the release, veterinarians took all the necessary tests and found that the animals were in good health. The sea mammals have also been equipped with trackers that will allow scientists to keep an eye on their movements and collect data on their behaviour.

In October 2018, the so-called whale jail in Russia's Srednyaya Bay made headlines after Greenpeace claimed that a batch of endangered whale species, held there in captivity, were being prepared to be smuggled to China. A probe was opened into illegal fishing of aquatic animals and animal abuse. The investigation found a group of more than 100 orcas and white whales trapped in a sea enclosure in deplorable conditions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered relevant agencies to oversee the case. A local court ruled that the sea mammals had been caught illegally. The companies responsible for the violation were reportedly fined a total of 150 million rubles ($2.4 million).

The first group of the animals was released on June 27, while the second one on July 16.

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