Two beluga whales have landed safely in Iceland, where they will live out their days in a whale sanctuary.
The pair, Little Grey and Little White, who had spent years in captivity as performers at the Changfeng Ocean World in Shanghai, were flown to the other side of the world in specially made slings and containers that were designed to their exact physical requirements.
The two 12-year-old female whales journeyed 9,223 kilometers, including the flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Iceland"s Keflavik International Airport and trips by truck and ferry, to end up at their new home in a natural bay on Heimaey, one of the Westman Islands, located off the southern coast of Iceland. They arrived on Wednesday.
Andy Bool, head of Sea Life Trust, said: "We"re absolutely delighted Little Grey and Little White have safely touched down in Iceland. This is a complex but inspiring project and we"ve been working with the whales for months, helping to prepare them for traveling to their new home."
Little Grey and Little White will live in a quarantine pool for at least 40 days and be monitored while they rest there and recover from the stresses of the journey before they are moved to the secluded open-water bay.
"We"ll continue to carefully monitor the whales, but we"re pleased with their overall progress and welfare checks, which have been taking place throughout the relocation," Bool said. "The coordination of this project has included many people and we"re extremely grateful for all their hard work, and thrilled this epic journey has gone as planned."
British company Merlin Entertainment, which has a policy against keeping captive whales and dolphins, acquired Changfeng Ocean World in 2012, when it started planning to find an appropriate home for the belugas. Merlin also runs Legoland and Madame Tussauds attractions.
It is thought Little Grey and Little White were two or three years old when they were captured in Russia"s Arctic waters.
Conservationists, who have long called for the end of whale and dolphin entertainment shows, welcomed the move.
Cathy Williamson, who leads the End Captivity program at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation charity group, said: "The world"s first whale sanctuary represents a pathway to the end of the keeping of whales and dolphins confined for entertainment. We are proud to be a partner of this important project that will improve welfare for these belugas, and show the world that there is an alternative to whale and dolphin captivity."
The bay where the whales will now live, which is around 32,000 square meters and up to 10 meters deep, has been netted off to ensure the whales cannot escape, given that they likely would not survive in the wild. The bay was chosen for its natural sub-Arctic environment, which resembles belugas" usual habitat.cheap custom wristbands no minimumwhat are the thick rubber bracelets calledpersonalized silicone wristbandsimprinted rubber braceletsblue rubber bracelet meaning