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SEA LIFE Trust: Safeguarding Marine Life and Habitats, Part 2 of 3

2021-04-12
Language:English

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Today, we continue our interview with Andy Bool, the Head of the SEA LIFE Trust. He will tell the story of the Beluga Whale Sanctuary and the challenges involved in returning the two beluga whales from the water park back to the ocean. “There have been many challenges in creating this world's first sanctuary for whales coming from a captive environment to a more natural environment. Firstly, it was about finding the right location. And that took the longest period of time, actually four years, until we ultimately found Klettsvik Bay on the island of Heimaey off the south coast of Iceland, which is the perfect environment for this sanctuary. It’s the most beautiful bay, enclosed on three sides by cliffs.”

“But once we’d found that location, really the next big challenge for us was how do you move two whales, Little White and Little Grey, 6,000 miles (~9,700 km) from one side of the world to the other, from the water park in Shanghai where they were living to Iceland, which will be their new, permanent home in Klettsvik Bay. And that took a lot of planning and preparation to do, and really that was a good solid 18 months of preparation and planning in making sure that the move went well for Little White and Little Grey.”

“So a lot of time was spent in preparing them physically for that journey, if you like, and mentally. But then the next part was about training them and desensitizing them to the equipment that would be used to transport them. Because it's a complex journey and it involves a journey by road first from the aquarium in Shanghai to the international airport, on the back of a lorry; they’re then taken from that lorry, put onto a plane and flown for 10.5 hours from China to Iceland. And then at the other end, they were offloaded again onto another lorry which travels for 3.5 hours down to a ferry port, which is half an hour from the island. And then the last leg of the journey is half an hour by ferry to the island. So it's quite a complex journey.”

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