A pair of beluga whales freed from captivity in a Chinese performance zoo have been transported to Iceland and placed in “care pools” in the sea before being released to spend the rest of their lives in a wider open water sanctuary.
The Science Times reports: “Little Grey and Little White are now exploring Klettsvik Bay‘s area off the south coast of Iceland to familiarize themselves in the facility before they are officially released into the wider sanctuary. After the group’s extensive planning and rehearsals, the first stage of releasing the whales back to the ocean went smoothly as they hoped and planned for. More so, it is the first time for both female belugas to be back in the sea after they were taken from a Russian whale research center in 2011 and then transferred to China, where they performed tricks in the Ocean World. Their journey to the sanctuary involved using specially-designed slings with custom-made foam matting as a cushion for the belugas’ bodies, a lorry, a Boeing 747-400ERF cargo aircraft, and a harbor tugboat.”
AFP adds: “They will stay in the care pools ‘for a few weeks’ before they are released into the bigger sanctuary, a 32,000-square-meter (344,445-square-foot) sea pen that will become their home, organizers said. Little Grey and Little White ‘will need a short period of time to acclimatize to their new natural environment and all the outdoor elements before they are released into the wider sanctuary in Klettsvik Bay,’ the statement said…. Ahead of their sea transfer, the whales were trained to hold their breath longer, become physically stronger to cope with tides and currents, and put on blubber to help them cope with colder water temperatures. … Originally from Russian Arctic waters, it is thought they were two or three years old when captured.”
Check a report on the beluga pair from the Evening Standard:
And ABC News: