Iceland is Home to the World’s First Open-Water Sanctuary for Beluga Whales

Iceland is Home to the World’s First Open-Water Sanctuary for Beluga Whales

The 344,445-square-foot sanctuary will allow Beluga whales to reconnect with nature.

Little Grey and Little White are the inaugural residents to grace the world’s first open-water sanctuary for beluga whales at Klettsvik Bay in IcelandThe two 12-year-old female belugas traversed two continents before making the SEA LIFE Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary their home. From Shanghai‘s Changfeng Ocean World, they travelled by land, sea, and air before reaching their final destination. They were kept in specially designed containers throughout the 6,000-mile journey.

About the SEA LIFE Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary

The SEA LIFE Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary was designed in partnership with Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC). According to SEA LIFE Trust, it is one of the biggest developments in captive whale and dolphin care and protection in decades. It endeavours to provide a more safe and natural habitat for beluga whales that were once living in captivity. Ultimately, the SEA LIFE Trust sets its sights on putting an end to whales and dolphins that have been exploited for entertainment in tourism venues. 

Last Friday marked the first time the two belugas splashed around the deep waters of the sea after nine years. They were taken from a Russian whale research centre in 2011. 

They will remain in the sea sanctuary care area for a while to help them acclimatise to their new environment under the supervision of the Animal Care Team. After which, they will be released into the wider sanctuary off the coast. 

Andy Bool, Head of SEA LIFE Trust, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be able to share the news that Little Grey and Little White are safely in their sea sanctuary care pools and are just one step away from being released into their wider open water home.”

“We are carefully monitoring Little Grey and Little White with our expert care team and veterinarians and hope to announce their final release very soon.”

The 344,445-square-foot sanctuary is ideal as it bears a resemblance to the cetacean’s natural subarctic habitat. It will allow the two whales to reconnect with nature with ample space to roam and forage for their food.

Also read: 20 Things to Do in Iceland Including Reykjavik and The Blue Lagoon

Facts about beluga whales

Belugas are one of the smallest species of whales, with a life span of 40 to 60 years. Known to live together in small groups known as pods, this social species is also very vocal and impish. They often mimic a wide range of sounds and chase each other playfully.

Soon, visitors will be able to take a boat ride from Vestmannaeyjar Harbour to visit the whales from a distance.

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Ifah Sakinah
Ifah Sakinah

Sakinah has a discerning palate and an innate desire to satisfy her inner curiosity. While she hasn't been everywhere, it's definitely on her list.


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