Two beluga whales move step closer to open water home

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Chloe Keedy

Two beluga whales that had not been in the sea for almost 10 years have been moved to an open water sanctuary.

Little Grey and Little White are in a care area at the world’s first open water sanctuary for belugas at Klettsvik Bay off the south coast of Iceland.

It is the first time the belugas have been in the sea since they were taken from a Russian whale research centre in 2011, the Sea Life Trust said.

ITV News visited the whales at Shanghai Changfeng Ocean World before they were transported the 6,000 miles to Iceland.

The belugas are now in a care pool and will need time to acclimatise to their new natural environment and all the outdoor elements before their final release into the wider sanctuary in Klettsvik Bay.

The Sea Life Trust team move Little Grey to a tugboat during the transfer process. Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

Experts were with Little Grey and Little White throughout the move and said they are healthy and are feeding well after the trip from their landside care facility on the island of Vestmannaeyjar.

The whales were transferred in specially designed slings with custom foam matting for cushioning during transportation using a truck and the harbour’s tugboat.

The whales are being moved to the world’s first open-water whale sanctuary Credit: Aaron Chown/PA
The team, including comedian John Bishop (centre), celebrate the successful transfer. Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

Andy Bool, head of the 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 open water home.

“Following extensive planning and rehearsals, the first stage of their release back to the ocean was as smooth as we had hoped and planned for.

“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.”