The world's beluga whales will have a brand-new animal sanctuary in Iceland. Beluga whales will eventually call the country home starting in 2019.
The New Whale Habitat
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society revealed that they launched a partnership with the Sea Life Trust that would return the world's captive beluga whales into their habitat. The 32,000 square meters sanctuary is in Klettsvik Bay at Heimaey Island, Iceland. This area will allow beluga whales the opportunity to perform deep-sea dives and explore their surroundings.
A Sea Life Trust spokesperson exclusively told Tech Times that the search for the sanctuary began six years ago. They extensively searched both the Arctic and sub-Arctic areas for suitable areas. With the help of the WDC, they settled on Klettsvik Bay as the ideal location for the Sea Life Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary. The site was chosen because of the area's cool coastal waters and its rich variety of local flora and wildlife.
With the help of a donation from Merlin Entertainments, the new sanctuary would also include facilities that would allow for medical staff to permanently look after the beluga whales on a full-time basis. Also, it is expected for the sanctuary to have a visitors' center, which will allow visitors to see the beluga whales in this habitat.
Little Grey And Little White
The very first residents of the new sanctuary will be two female beluga whales. Nicknamed Little Grey and Little White, they were born in Russia but currently are located at the Changfeng Ocean World in Shanghai. Both beluga whales have entertained the aquarium's guests since 2011 but will be moving to Iceland next year.
It is expected that there will be 6,000 miles of journey between Shanghai and Heimaey Island. It would take over 35 hours to complete. To prepare the beluga whales for this massive adventure, trainers have increased their herring and capelin intake to make sure they had enough fat to protect them from Iceland's extreme water temperatures. Also, the Changfeng Ocean World has changed the whales' living headquarters. Cathy Williamson, the WDC's End Captivity Lead, believes that the whales have quite the challenge ahead of them.
"It is a difficult process to transport them, and it can be quite stressful for them. Unfortunately, the alternative is to leave them in their concrete tank in Shanghai, and that's not good for their health and welfare either," said Williamson to the Independent.
A trainer at China's Sun Asia Ocean World marine park caused controversy when a video was uploaded that showed her putting lipstick on a beluga whale. The marine park apologized after receiving a massive public backlash and reassured that their staff received training on how to handle the sea creatures properly. Even after the marine park took down their video, PETA Asia condemned the Sun Asia Ocean World's practices in a statement.
John "Jake" Bell plead guilty for illegally smuggling and selling thousands of dollars of sperm whale teeth in the United States between 2004 and 2008. The Lakeville, Connecticut, resident admitted that he sold over $11,600 of the teeth to a "co-conspirator" in Nantucket, Massachusetts, while he was in Ukraine in 2004. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison for the crime.
The International Whaling Commission recently published a field survey that showcased the results of a 143-day excursion in the Antarctic Ocean. The report documented that the group encountered over 925 Antarctic minke whales during their visit. However, the Humane Society International released a scathing statement that accused the International Whaling Commission of murdering over 333 Antarctic minke whales. A representative stated that not only were they disgusted with the research team's "truly gruesome" actions but also thought that killings were unnecessary.