Two Beluga whales transported to Iceland by Cargolux in 2019 have taken their first swim in their open water sanctuary home.
Photo: Sea Life Trust
Named Little Grey and Little White, the whales were released for the first time into the natural surroundings of the wider sanctuary at Klettsvik Bay on Heimaey, one of the Westman Islands off the south coast of Iceland.
The Sea Life Trust, which runs the Beluga Whale Sanctuary, says the whales have been making good progress since moving to their bayside care pools in August. Their first swim out in the wider bay “is part of a carefully managed welfare programme to help introduce the whales gradually into their much larger sanctuary home.” The 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.
Little Grey and Little White, both females who each weigh about 900kg and are four metres long, were previously captive in Changfeng Ocean World near Shanghai. They were flown the 6,000 kilometres to Keflavik in Iceland by a Cargolux 747-400ERF fitted with custom-made stretchers and transport crates in June last year.
The whales’ journey back to the ocean will be told as part of a new two-part feature length documentary to be shown on ITV this October with comedian and animal lover John Bishop.