Cetacean Celebration! Why Taking Action for Animals Works

Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF's Staff Writer on August 8, 2013

We did it! Together, with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, your action helped us prevent the import of 18 wild-caught beluga whales into U.S. theme parks like SeaWorld (in Florida, Texas, and California) and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced this week that after careful review of public comments it was denying the Georgia Aquarium’s request for a permit to import the belugas from the Utrish Marine Mammal “Research” Station in Russia.


This would have been the first time the U.S. approved the intentional capture of a marine mammal for display since 1993, and would have been the worst kind of “whale washing”—as criminals launder money through businesses, the display industry distance themselves from the scandal of capture by importing wild-caught animals from foreign, substandard facilities.

Last October, ALDF raised the red flag about this “whale washing” of wild-caught belugas. ALDF submitted a letter to the NOAA as well, informing them of the importance of upholding the Marine Mammal Protection Act and fully reviewing the National Environmental Policy Act. As we explained, and the NOAA agreed, captive breeding is not sustainable: the importing of wild-caught belugas would likely have resulted in the capture of even more marine mammals.

In other great news for ocean mammals, our voices were heard to protect Puget Sound’s Southern Resident Killer Whales. Earlier this year, we asked you to take action to help us protect Lolita’s family, an incredibly self-aware group of whales (orcas) living off the coast of southern Washington. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) considered a petition that aimed to remove the protections granted to these orcas by the Endangered Species Act. Why? As in the case with the wild-caught belugas, it all came down to a contest between greed vs. animal well-being. In both cases we spoke up, and animal well-being won the day. The NMFS pointed to scientific information ALDF provided that demonstrated that the pod meets the standards of the Endangered Species Act, and agreed the orcas should remain protected. ALDF was one of the few animal protection organizations to speak up for these orcas.

belugas-by-NOAA-article-image2Animals need heroes to speak up for them. This is why it is so important for us to be a voice for animals, and help agencies like the NOAA and NMFS understand the importance of animal well-being. It’s a good day to celebrate for whales! But there are so many other animals who need your help—sign up now to join ALDF in the fight for justice for all cetaceans!

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3 thoughts on “Cetacean Celebration! Why Taking Action for Animals Works

  1. Jen says:

    This is great that the whales were not imported, however, I just signed a petition on change.org this morning voting to rehabilitate and release these beautiful balugas because foe years before and since the import permit was denied, these poor whales have been kept in a “holding facility” and are suffering the effects of captivity. Please, I encourage people to find this petition and sign it because just because it’s a victory that they were not imported for a lifetime of captivity, these 18 whales are still not free and are still being held in captivity with no end in sight. It doesn’t end here. Thanks for reading. The petition can be signed on change.org

  2. Janet in Cambridge MA says:

    This is truly a victory from our side. Unfortunately, those 18 Belugas, as far as I know, are still being held captive and the chances of them being released back to their homeland is probably zilch.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Found the petition on Change.org and signed. Name of petition is “Russian Department of Fisheries and Utrishskiy delphinarium: Allow a panel of experts to rehab & release 18 wild-caught Beluga Whales”. Copy and paste into the search box.

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