Nilma & Matriona

Tribute to Nilma and Matriona

Four years ago, I had the privilege to try ice freediving in the White Sea, in the north of Russia. I wanted to meet belugas as well, inspired by a famous picture seen on the internet.

To my surprise, the residing belugas were not wild, and they were kept in a fenced cove of the bay. A person in charge explained me, or so I thought, that these were young and born in captivity in Saint Petersburg’ aquarium, and that they were part of a re adaptation program with a progressive return to the wild. As a matter of fact Nilma and Matriona were two juvenile females, and freediving and playing with them will remain one of the strongest emotions I ever experienced underwater.
The stolen goodbye they gave me (I was not supposed to go alone by their cove) was a festival of jumps, whistling and tricks, that shook me deeply.

During this trip, I met Yulia Petrik and Tatiana Beley, who told me that the belugas were in fact in captivity and transit, in their habitat maybe, but prisoners.
A few months later, I was informed via mail of the sad new of their transfer to a Shanghai aquarium.

Tatiana, Yulia and Gayane Petrossian are now fully involved in the raising the public awareness about the captivity of the belugas and other cetaceans in Russia, it was important for me to share their pledge with you. is the link to the Facebook page of the documentary in progress. the one to the fundraising page, hopefully already completed, that details the project.

I still feel guilty for having been « accomplice » of the system, and I commit with Apnée Evasion so that all the interactions we will contribute to set up are in complete harmony and respect of the animals that you will meet… Hoping that one day, Nilma, Matriona and all the other inhabitants of the oceans will be free and happy.