It's today been announced that SEA LIFE Trust will open a Beluga Whale Sanctuary
off the coast of Iceland in Spring 2019 - of course in typical Merlin fashion it has been highlighted as a "world first". The key aspects have been included below, but a lot more information is accessible via the link.
Created in partnership with Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), the SEA LIFE TRUST Beluga Whale Sanctuary is one of the biggest developments in captive whale and dolphin care and protection in decades. It is hoped the project will help to encourage the rehabilitation of more captive whales into natural environments in the future, and one day bring an end to whale and dolphin entertainment shows.
The sanctuary will become the new home to its first residents, two female beluga whales, Little Grey and Little White in Spring 2019.
Currently located at Changfeng Ocean World in Shanghai, China, Little Grey and Little White will take part in an incredible 6,000-mile journey and will be transported by air, land and sea to a large sanctuary in a natural bay at Heimaey Island, located off the coast of southern Iceland.
Backed by a donation from Merlin Entertainments and supported by the world’s largest aquarium brand, SEA LIFE, the sanctuary will comprise of a stunning natural sea inlet in Klettsvik Bay and include a landside care facility and visitor centre.
It's interesting that there is explicit reference made to the hope that more captive whales can be rehabilitated in natural environments going forwards, with the ending of whale and dolphin entertainment shows. Obviously the most high profile example of this has been Sea World, who have taken their own steps to address some of the concerns that have emerged in recent years, especially since Blackfish.