Russian Ship Used Classical Music To Rescue Thousands Of Beluga Whales

Back in 1985, a Russian icebreaker ship made headlines across the globe when it successfully saved thousands of entrapped beluga whales with the help of classical music.

According to the book, Our Fascinating Earth, 3,000 beluga whales had become entrapped in the narrow Senyavina Strait.

The whales had reportedly followed a shoal of cod into the area when a massive sheet of ice fell across the straight – trapping them there.

Photo: Max Pixel

Thankfully, a group of hunters saw the entrapped belugas and decided to help them. As Our Fascinating Earth reported, they thought that hunting the animals, or leaving them to die, could decimate their populations.

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After calling for help, officials made the decision to bring in the icebreaking ship, Moskva.

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Time was of the essence because the ice that was trapping the belugas was threatening to suffocate them. It took two months, but the Moskva finally arrived at the scene to find that the ice was so thick, the captain decided to call the whole thing off.

However, after several days, they decided to keep pushing through and were able to break through the wall of ice. Moskva created a 10-mile path to the open ocean for the belugas to swim through – but they weren’t moving. The belugas needed to follow the ship out before the ice closed the path, but they refused to near the ship.


That’s when someone on board had the idea to try playing music. According to Russia Through The Lens, the Government newspaper Izvestia, wrote: “Nobody could tell the captain how, in effect, to perform the most responsible stage of the operation – in what language, so to speak, to talk to the polar dolphins. This operation was truly experimental.”

The crew initially played different types of music, but they noticed a change in the whales when classical came on. The whales began to follow Moskva and seemed to dance and play to the music.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

By the end of the operation, it was estimated that 2,000 whales escaped, according to The New York Times. The operation was dubbed “Operation Beluga” and is now recognized and praised around the world.

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