Killer whale exhibit planned for Sochi draws ire

Danielle Paquette
January 17, 2014
In this handout photo provided by Sea World Australia a killer whale surfaces in the shallow waters July 4, 2013 on Fraser Island, Australia. A pod of nine whales are being monitored as they swim north near Fraser Island where five were beached and two died after becoming stranded on Wednesday morning. (Photo by Sea World Australia via Getty Images)

Thus far, Sochi seems to be generating waves of controversy. The latest cause for outrage? Two captive killer whales.

A Russian company seized seven orcas last summer in the sea of Okhotsk — just northeast of Japan — and plans to display a pair in a host city aquarium during the Winter Games, according to CBC News.

[ Related: Team USA hockey player forced to change mask ]

Fresh on the tail of “Blackfish,” the documentary that sparked vitriol after examining killer whale captivity at SeaWorld, some people aren’t too happy about it.

Environmental groups worldwide are urging the International Olympic Committee to pressure the captors into freeing the orcas. An online petition in protest has garnered more than 98,000 signatures.

[ Related: "Not if but when" for Sochi terror attack ]

“When they're captured, their families are just ripped apart,” British Columbia-based whale researcher Paul Spong told the Canadian news outlet. “And when they're put into captivity, they're really subject to sensory deprivation for years and years and years — it's hugely damaging to them."

The Russian government has yet to respond.