The beluga whale is an intelligent, gentle and very social whale. It has been listed by the International Union for Conservation (IUCN) as " nearly endangered" on their Red List of Threatened Species since 2008. At this time there are around 100 beluga whales that are in crisis and trapped in northeastern Russia near the Bering Sea in the Sinyavinsky Straight. Very large pieces of thick sea ice have confined these whales and have forced them to rely on several smaller holes in the ice to get air to breathe. They are trapped by a “wide belt of 10- to 15- centimeter- thick ice” (33 feet to 50 feet). This is sadly a relatively common phenomenon for them to get trapped by icebergs in the Bering Sea.

The difference this time is that some of the local fisherman had noticed the trapped beluga whales. They had contacted Russia’s Transport Minister and Emergencies Minister asking them to send an icebreaker as soon as possible. They had stressed that it was extremely critical because advancing ice and extreme frigid waters are decreasing the the amount of space that the whales have to swim in. It is extremely dangerous for those whales from the declining temperatures, the lack of food, and also from potential predators like polar bears and killer whales.

The Russians have responded by launching a rescue effort. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is a huge fan of beluga whales and heads Russia’s program to protect them. A rescue tug called the Ruby that was in the area helping a stranded Korean cargo ship was dispatched to the area. Unfortunately it is being hampered by a high winds and heavy swell and cannot break through the ice until the weather gets better. An emergency ice breaker is desperately needed to help pave a way for these whales to get out to the open sea. All of this takes time where there is little time left for these whales. Please take a minute to sign the petition below to ask that the U.S. join in this rescue operation to help free these beautiful whales from their potential icy grave.

Photograph by Brian J. Skerry

Rescue the 100 Belugas Trapped Under Ice Near the Bering Sea

Video: Lifestyles of Beluga Whales

Responses to "100 beluga whales are trapped near the Bering Sea - need immediate help"

  1. Anonymous says:

    It's critical that the U.S. become involved in the effort to save these trapped whales.

  2. Catherine says:

    Please help these beautiful, intelligent creatures to survive.

  3. Mary Enns says:

    Lets send all the help we can

  4. They are beautiful and my prayers goes to a positive outcome of this event.

    Catrina Osment, Denmark.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It is imperative we do the simplest of acts... because we CAN ...send an Icebreaker to free them....

  6. Elsie says:

    What is the status? I hope it's not too late for them. My heart is breaking. I keep checking for updates, but can never find one.

  7. Anonymous says:

    We need more updates! Have the ice breakers arrived yet. Wat about dynamite to break the ice. 33 to 50 feet thick, they need our help now before it is too late. U.S. get out there and help save these beautiful whales.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Is it possible to drop live food into the waters {where accessable}?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Please publish an update about this tragic event. Have they been saved? If not yet are they still alive & how do we express our support?

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