Satellite monitoring data from the released belugas show that most of them were in the coastal waters of the Primorsky Krai during the winter, some belugas went north to the Ternay District, but then returned to the gulf East. The main part of the released belugas spread along the coast of southern Primorye: groups of four to eight individuals are regularly observed in Uspeniya Bay, Nakhodka, Vostok, Ussuri Bay, Amur Bay and even Posieta Bay. All observations indicate that the animals lead an active lifestyle, hunt in the coastal zone and look quite well-fed. Unlike wild kinsmans these belugas are not afraid of people and ships, but do not beg or accept fish, sometimes thrown overboard by the heart-loving citizens.
In general, it can be said that released animals have returned to independent life in the wild. However, the question of their future fate remains open and concerns scientists. The initial expectation of the specialists that the rich fodder base of Primorya will allow released belugas safely to wintering has been realized. Young belugas released in November in the Uspeniya Bay of the Lazov State Reserve successfully wintered, formed natural groups led by the oldest individuals, and learned to hunt independently in the coastal zone. The question now is, what are they going to do next?At present, a significant part of the summer feeding areas of Beluga whales in the sea of Okhotsk remains closed by ice, and it is too early for belugas to migrate North. But soon the situation will change: the water in the Primorye gradually warms up, the migration of herring and salmon fish will soon begin, and scientists hope that these factors encourage beluga fish to go north, to the Tatar Strait and further - in the Sakhalin Gulf of the Okhotsk Sea.
Fears that belugas fear the noise of motorboats and ships are obviously groundless. Having spent about a year in the enclosures of the temporary holding centre at the Srednya Bay, these animals used to not be afraid of people, the noise of boats and ships. Numerous observations show that they are easy to navigate among the numerous ships in the port of Nakhodka, they swim with curiosity to the fishing vessels, they accompany them and they easily evade collisions. The answer to the basic question - whether these animals will return to the main hunting herd, or form a new self-sufficient population in the Sea of Japan - will depend on time, as well as on special studies currently being carried out by experts from VNIRO and academic institutions.
Press Service VNIRO