There are more than 3,600 whales, dolphins and porpoises held in tanks. To end captivity, we need to find somewhere for them to go. But it’s not easy. You can’t just take a whale or dolphin out of a captive environment and return them to the ocean. Some may need human care for the rest of their lives, and those who are suitable for a return to the wild will need to re-learn the skills they will need to survive.
This is where wild sea sanctuaries come in, and we have helped to create one - the SEA LIFE TRUST Beluga Whale Sanctuary
This 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 whales and dolphins. WDC hopes the project will help to encourage the rehabilitation of more captive whales into natural environments, and one day help to bring an end to whale and dolphin entertainment shows.
The project has now officially been launched and two belugas (Little White and Little Grey) have taken their first swim in the sea since they were very young. You can read more about the project here or watch this short film and find out more.
What is a sanctuary?
Sanctuaries need to offer space and protection in clean waters of the right temperature while, ideally, being accessible to visitors so they can support the sanctuary financially, learn about the benefits of sanctuaries and spread the word. It takes time to secure financial, political and community support. Remember, if we want to see an end to captivity, we may need to find sanctuary homes for many more individuals.
WDC is also working in partnership with other sanctuary projects too, such as the Whale Sanctuary Project in North America and the Dolphin Sea Refuge in Italy.
Ensuring the sanctuary’s long-term future is a priority as it will provide a safe environment for Little White and Little Grey for the rest of their lives, as well as for the whales who come here in the future.
It’s not easy!
Sanctuaries are not simple. They cannot be rushed without placing the welfare of the whales and dolphins we are trying to help in jeopardy. Moving them from their current locations is a hugely complex and costly logistical operation.
Any whale or dolphin held for a length of time in captivity has to be assessed by an expert team to ascertain how suitable they are for transportation and release back into the wild. Assessments also need to be made on suitable locations for release, in areas where the whale or dolphin in question would naturally be found and preferably in an area with minimal threat to their continued survival and where there is a possibility that they could join a suitable natural population.
We are working within a team of experts to handle all the issues that sanctuaries bring. A team of skilled people who can deal with transport, transfer and other logistics, official approval from the local, national and international authorities concerned, and securing the millions of pounds of funds needed to finance this complicated and expensive process.
Beluga sanctuary facts
- Opened in Spring 2019.
- Located at Heimaey in the Westman Islands, Iceland.
- Secluded bay of 32,000 sq. metres.
- 6,000 mile journey from Shanghai.
- Little Grey and Little White are both 13 years old.
- Whales moved to bay care area in August 2020.
Help us end create sanctuaries for captive whales and dolphins
By adopting a whale or dolphin, by making a donation, or by fundraising for WDC, you can help create a better future for these amazing, intelligent creatures.
Adopt a whale or dolphin and help us end captivity.
Your gifts help us take action to end this cruel exploitation.
Run, bake, walk, cycle… what could you do to help?