We can now confirm that two beluga whales, Little Grey and Little White, are now safely in their new sea sanctuary care area at Klettsvik Bay in Iceland.
The moving of the whales into the world’s first open water sanctuary for belugas, was completed on Friday 7th August at 12:30pm Icelandic time.
Little Grey and Little White are now in their bayside care pool and will need a short period of time to acclimatise to their new natural environment and all the outdoor elements before their final release into the wider sanctuary in Klettsvik Bay in the Westman Islands off the south coast of Iceland.
The expert team and the independent vets were with Little Grey and Little White throughout the move and said they are healthy and are feeding well after the short trip from their landside care facility back to the sea.
This is the first time Little Grey and Little White have been in the sea since they were taken from a Russian whale research centre in 2011.
Little Grey and Little White will now be assessed around the clock as they get used to being back in the ocean environment.
Andy Bool, Head of SEA LIFE Trust, said: ‘We’re absolutely delighted to be able to share the news that Little Grey and Little White are safely in their sea sanctuary care pools and are just one step away from being released into their open water home.
‘Following extensive planning and rehearsals, the first stage of their release back to the ocean was as smooth as we had hoped and planned for. We are carefully monitoring Little Grey and Little White with our expert care team and veterinarians and hope to announce their final release very soon.’
Rob Lott, WDC’s end captivity campaigner said: ‘Little White and Little Grey were taken from the wild when they were very young so Friday was a big day for them (and all of us) as they got to experience the ocean for the first time in their adult lives. These robust, healthy, energetic whales can now look forward to a brighter future as this ground-breaking, welfare project finally enters the home straight.’
The Sanctuary, operated by charity the SEA LIFE Trust and which is the first of its kind, was built with the support of a generous donation from Merlin Entertainments. Created in partnership with Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), the SEA LIFE TRUST Beluga Whale Sanctuary is one of the biggest developments in captive whale and dolphin care and protection in decades and the first of its kind to be created for cetaceans.
As well as helping to establish the world’s first beluga whale sanctuary in Iceland with The SEA LIFE Trust , WDC is also working in partnership with other sanctuary projects. It is hoped these initiatives will help to encourage the rehabilitation of more captive whales and dolphins into natural environments around the world, and one day help to bring an end to whale and dolphin entertainment shows.