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Image: Peter Flood

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Beluga sanctuary update

As you may know, WDC is working with Merlin Entertainments to create the world’s first wild beluga whale sea sanctuary and secure a better future for the three beluga whales living at Changfeng Ocean World in Shanghai.

Well, we have some further progress to report regarding the project, and our ultimate goal to relocate these belugas from the aquarium in Shanghai to a more natural life in a sanctuary.

It is a long and painstaking process for the team involved in this ground-breaking endeavour and recently our experts have been narrowing down a suitable location for the belugas – one that will ensure the safest possible wild environment for them.

We are a step closer to announcing that location but we can’t do that until we are sure that it passes all the tests and meets our strict requirement criteria. The team are now busy setting up rigorous site surveys. These include studying the sea bed and the water quality in the area in question, so that we are as certain as we can be that this natural sea location will provide a clean and suitable environment for the belugas to live in for years to come.  We are also studying noise levels, to ensure they are not high enough to cause the belugas stress. Sea conditions in the area are being analysed, including wave and swell levels, to make sure they are not too rough to be uncomfortable for the belugas or to cause motion sickness. We are also starting to test for potential storm impact so that the sanctuary and equipment used are not destroyed during the harsh winter months. 

If these latest site surveys yield positive results then we are another step closer to giving the three belugas, Jun Jun, Little White and Little Grey, the most natural possible environment and, ultimately, a better life in the years to come.

Surveys aside, we still have to tackle legal paperwork with the host nation, apply for all the necessary permits and raise more funds but, if these aspects go smoothly then we hope work on our sanctuary will commence in 2018 and the belugas will be moved to the sanctuary in the spring of 2019. We will provide regular updates on this exciting project so you can follow the progress of the belugas on their journey to sanctuary. Fingers crossed!

More on WDC’s wild sea sanctuary work.