Study finds mammals alive and well
Up to 29 beluga whales can be removed from the wild each year without harm says a four-year sustainability assessment commissioned by five aquariums worldwide, including Ocean Park.
The study, conducted between 2007 and 2010, focused on the whale population in the Sakhalin-Amur region in the Sea of Okhotsk in Russia's Far East. It was reviewed by an independent scientific panel.
There are at least 2,891 beluga whales in the region, the study said, based on aerial and field surveys.
Yet it added that the capture of certain whales, depending on age and sex, could affect population growth and social structures.
Russian beluga whales were hunted heavily from 1917 until the 1960s. At the peak of the trade in the 1930s, at least 2,800 whales were captured every year. In 1963, hunting for beluga whales halted after their numbers plummeted.
Since 2000, between 10 and 31 whales have been captured alive every year for aquariums.