Connecticut-based Friends of Animals and other activists had sought to block the transport of the whales in a lawsuit last fall against the U.S. Commerce secretary and National Marine Fisheries Service, which had approved the research permit.
The group claimed the U.S. permit violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the National Environmental Policy Act because government officials did not adequately address the potential harm to the belugas from being moved to Mystic.
A federal judge in March declined to issue an injunction.
Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist with the Animal Welfare Institute, which was not part of the original lawsuit, said Mystic has had a very good reputation when it comes to beluga care and research, but said that is quickly deteriorating.
She is calling for an investigation of Mystic by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the federal Animal Health and Plant Inspection Service. She said she wants the remaining whales to be examined by an independent marine veterinarian and will be asking for health certificates and other documentation from the move.
“When (the male whale) died, Mystic said the other four were in good health” she said. “Well, three weeks later, one of them is probably dying. And if its something that happened in the last three weeks, well what the hell is that? And if it’s something that she was already suffering from when she came from Marineland, than she wasn’t healthy three weeks ago, so they just outright lied.”