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Government Says No to SeaWorld Importing Wild Beluga Whales

Updated: 14 Aug 2013 01:25:11 AM

On August 6th, the U.S. Federal Government denied a request by a group of marine parks and aquariums to import a 18 wild-caught beluga whales from the Sea of Okhotsk, on the eastern coast of Russia.

This marks the first time in 20 years that a bid has been made for such an important.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service carried out the decision.

Marine Mammal Protection Act

Fisheries Service cited the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which actually allows for wild animals to be collected for public display.

However, this only applies to instances where the collection of animals would not hurt the wild population.

Due to the declining number of beluga whales in the wild, the Fisheries Service said that their importation would contribute to the decline of the wild population.

SeaWorld & Georgia Aquarium

If the aquariums and marine parks had been cleared to move forward with the import, 11 whales would be sent to SeaWorld parks - including 2 to SeaWorld Orlando - on a breed-loaning program from the Georgia Aquarium.

SeaWorld has not yet commented on the decision.

The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is deeply disappointed by the situation.

In the bid, the aquariums and marine parks claimed that importing the whales would help researchers learn more about the species and would contribute to their overall survival.

Meanwhile, the 18 whales captured between 2006 and 2012 are being housed in a research facility in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia.

By Marie Ospina

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