Two captive-held Belugas, named Little Grey and Little White, traveled 11,000 kilometers by air from Shanghai to Keflavik where they landed yesterday (19 June) in good shape. However, their journey was not yet over. It continued by truck and ferry boat to a sanctuary in a natural bay on Heimaey, one of the Westman Islands, located off the southern coast of Iceland. Little White and Little Grey have in the meantime arrived there.
Cargolux speaks of an epic project, and this is no exaggeration. The prerequisite for the success of this ambitious mammoth endeavor was first-class preparation and perfect cooperation between
all parties involved. After all, transporting the large mammals from their former water basin Changfeng Ocean World in Shanghai to their new habitat, an open water sanctuary in a bay near the
Heimaey Island proved to be an extremely challenging mission.
According to Cargolux, the belugas were taken out of their pool in custom-made slings designed to their exact physical requirements and were then placed in tailored containers. After trucking them from Changfeng Ocean World to Shanghai Pudong Airport, the whales were loaded onto a specially branded Cargolux freighter.
The whales arrived in good health
Everything went according to plan, including the flight to Keflavik, stated the freight carrier immediately after the mammal’s arrival in Iceland. During their journey, including the air transport on board a Cargolux Jumbo freighter, a flight engineer and a team of veterinary experts with experience in transporting marine mammals accompanied the two belugas, constantly monitoring their health conditions.
Obviously relieved that everything went well, Richard Forson, the carrier’s President and CEO stated: “The success of this undertaking is the reflection of the dedication and commitment of teams across all of our organizations who worked tirelessly to make this happen. We hope that Little Grey and Little White rapidly adapt to their new home and that their story will serve as a precedent for other cetaceans held in captivity.”
Caring vs killing
The beluga re-location mission, that deserves a high level of respect and publicity, is in stark contrast to the killing of whales, still practiced by a number of countries, among them Japan and Norway, but also Iceland. On the one hand, marine mammals are saved or offered a better habitat to live in as seen here, while in international waters whalers still harpoon blue, baleen or humpback whales, allegedly on scientific grounds.
Against this somber background, setting up an open water sanctuary for belugas and dolphins, the first ever established, is a ground-breaking project, states SEA LIFE, the world’s largest family of aquariums. It gives shelter to individual aquatic mammals held in captivity and whose only purpose is to amuse visitors of marine parcs.
After arriving at Heimaey Island, Little White and Little Grey will spend at least 40 days in the sanctuary quarantine care pool for further monitoring and relaxing from their long journey.