Little Grey and Little White are two twelve-year-old, female beluga whales, currently in training for their journey from China to a natural sanctuary off Heimaey Island, in Iceland.
See also: Whale Watching & Puffin Tours in Iceland
Little Grey and Little White were both captured from the wild in their youth. Made to perform in a Chinese aquarium, Changfeng Ocean World, the two belugas were destined for a life of mistreatment and confinement.
That is until the British conservation group, Sea Trust, purchased the two belugas with the intention of making them the first residents of their new, specially designed whale and dolphin sanctuary in Iceland.
The aim of the sanctuary is to encourage other similar facilities, as well as bring an end to whale and dolphin shows worldwide.
See also: Sustainable Tourism in Iceland
The journey will take approximately 30 hours and cover an epic 6000 miles over land, air and sea. Naturally, transporting two 4-metre Beluga whales this distance is a logistical challenge, requiring the skills of a global team of experts.
UPDATE: Little White & Little Grey continue their training with their transport slings.
These are specially designed to hold Little Grey and Little White in their transport containers – keeping them safe during their @cargolux_intl flight from China to Iceland. #BelugaFlight pic.twitter.com/GMGM24erMZ
— Beluga Sanctuary (@BelugaSanctuary) March 9, 2019
Currently, Little Grey and Little White are undergoing an intense training programme to acclimatise them to the conditions of the journey, including behavioural therapy and learning how to interact with new equipment, such as stretchers.
Because Iceland’s coastal waters are far colder than the whales are used to, they are also slowly being introduced to swimming in cooler temperatures, as well as eating more to put on a thicker layer of blubber.
The sanctuary itself, Klettsvikk Bay, will be netted off, and be developed to include a visitor’s centre and in-house care facility. In total, the sanctuary is 32,000 square metres and 30 feet deep and is thought to be the first of its kind dedicated to rehabilitating captive cetaceans.
See also: Wildlife & Animals in Iceland
In the future, it is hoped that Klettsvikk Bay will house countless more whales and dolphins in need.
Are you interested to learn more about whales in Iceland? Then read Whale Watching in Iceland. Make sure to leave your thoughts, comments and queries in the Facebook box below.