SeaWorld to receive several wild beluga whales?Leah Zanolla | Posted: Oct 5, 2012 | Updated: Oct 5, 2012 - 2:18:44 PM
The Georgia Aquarium, located in Atlanta, is trying to decide what to do with 18 beluga whales that were captured in the Russian Sea of Okhotsk between 2006 and 2011. The whales were caught with the purpose of putting them on public display, and the Aquarium hopes to give 11 of them to various SeaWorld parks. The Aquarium has filed an application for a Marine Mammal Protection Act permit to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries to allow the whales to be exported to the U.S. If approved, breeding loan agreements would send six whales to SeaWorld San Antonio, three whales to SeaWorld San Diego and two whales to SeaWorld Orlando. SeaWorld San Antonio already has eight beluga whales in their park, which is almost half of the total number of belugas in all the SeaWorld parks combined.
According to NOAA Fisheries officials, "the shipment of whales captured in the wild for display in the U.S. is rare." Permit applications are published in the Federal Register for 30 days for the public to have a chance to respond. This review period has been set at 60 days because of the amount of interest in the case. 4,000 comments on the permit have already been received. A public hearing will be held on October 12.
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