Belugas take little steps to new life in sanctuary home
Our project with the SEA LIFE Trust to move two beluga whales, Little White and Little Grey, from captivity in China to the world’s first whale sanctuary in Iceland has taken some significant steps forward. We’re calling this phase ‘Little Steps’, because that’s what we and the whales are taking.
The whales made good progress in their care pools in the bay and in September were released to explore the wider sanctuary. Their first swims out were part of a carefully managed programme to introduce them into their much larger ocean home and they adapted well to their new surroundings.
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Ideally this phase would have happened in the spring, giving the whales and their care team several months of acclimatisation to life in the bay before the Icelandic winter hit. But what none us could have predicted was the impact of a global pandemic.
After Little White and Little Grey’s successful first Little Steps into the wider bay, the expert team decided that, for the moment, it is safest for the whales if they are looked after in their custom-built landside care pool.
They were moved in a short 45-minute operation in early December and will stay until the milder spring weather allows us to return them to the bay to begin their new life there, giving them plenty of time to get ready for the next winter. Little White and Little Grey’s welfare will always be our priority and the decisions around their care made by the expert team are informed by the advice of independent veterinarians.
Little White and Little Grey’s first year in the sanctuary was always planned to look different to ongoing years. Of course it is disappointing they can’t stay in the bay all winter this year, but remember, they have the rest of their lives to enjoy the sanctuary and we have to get this right not only for these two awesome individuals, but also for all the other whales who may come here in the future.
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to help WDC and the SEA LIFE Trust cover the costs of caring for Little White and Little Grey
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