Amazing Rescue Lets Two Beluga Whales Swim in the Sea for the First Time Since 2011

Beluga Whale Rescue

Photo: PA Media

Two beluga whales named Little Grey and Little White are swimming in the sea for the first time since 2011. In a rehoming mission that was years in the making, these two creatures were transported across continents from a Chinese aquarium to an eight-acre sea sanctuary at Klettsvik Bay in Iceland. If their smiles are any indication, they are happy to be there.

The idea to transport Grey and White came in 2012, a year after they were moved from a Russian research facility to Changfeng Ocean World aquarium in Shanghai. Merlin Entertainments had purchased the aquarium that year and was opposed to keeping dolphins and whales in captivity. The company helped establish a sanctuary, operated by the charity the Sea Life Trust, which made it a natural place for the two belugas to go.

Moving the whales was no easy feat, though—especially during a pandemic. Each beluga weighs about a ton and has a diet of over 50 pounds of fish a day. But with the help of an expert care team and independent veterinarians, extensive planning, dress rehearsals, and even specially designed slings to move them overland, the rescue was a success.

Once reaching Klettsvik Bay, Grey and White entered sea sanctuary care pools. Now, they are being monitored and provided veterinary care while they get acclimated to the new environment. Eventually, once it's determined safe, they'll enter their large forever home.

Scroll down to see photos from the amazing rescue. And to follow along with the whale’s story and learn more about Sea Life Trust, visit their Facebook page.

Two rescued beluga whales named Little Grey and Little White are swimming in the sea for the first time since 2011.

Beluga Whale Rescue

Photo: PA Media

Beluga Whale Rescue

Photo: PA Media

With the help of an expert care team and independent veterinarians, the two were transported from China to Iceland.

Beluga Whale Rescue
Beluga Whale Rescue

Photo: PA Media

Each whale had its own specially designed sling.

Beluga Whale Rescue

Photo: PA Media

Beluga Whale Rescue

Photo: PA Media

Beluga Whale Rescue

Photo: PA Media

Little Grey and Little White will stay in a care pool to be monitored before being released into the rest of the sea sanctuary.

Beluga Whale Rescue

Photo: PA Media

Sea Life Trust: Website | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Sea Life Trust.

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World’s First Open-Water Beluga Sanctuary Is Opening in Iceland with Two Adorable Whales

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met and Manager of My Modern Met Store. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.

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