Beluga whales move from China to new Iceland home

More than 3,000 whales and dolphins are kept in captivity around the world.
More than 3,000 whales and dolphins are kept in captivity around the world.

REYKJAVIK: Two beluga whales from a Shanghai aquarium arrived in Iceland on Wednesday to live in a unique marine sanctuary.

Little White and Little Grey, two 12-year-old female belugas, left behind their previous lives entertaining visitors at the Changfeng Ocean World and were flown across the globe in specially made containers.

The whales, which each weigh about 900 kilogrammes and measuring four metres will continue their epic journey by truck and ferry to the sanctuary at Heimaey, one of the Westman Islands off the south coast of Iceland.

The conservation charity Sea Life Trust, which has been at the forefront of the project, said the bay is the world's first open water beluga sanctuary and had been selected to "provide a more natural sub-Arctic environment and wilder habitat for these amazing whales to call home".

"We have been working with Little White and Little Grey for the last 18 months to make sure that they will be prepared and ready for the long journey," said Andy Bool, Head of Sea Life Trust.

After years in captivity, the whales will still be cared for in their new netted-off Icelandic sea pen, which covers 32,000 square metres, and is 10 metres deep, because it is thought they would not survive on their own in the wild.

And they will still see tourists, with a visitor centre built at the site and plans for small groups to be able to approach the whales by boat.

Learn from listening

Click play to listen to audio for this story, or download to save the file
: :


  • captivity: the state of being kept in a confined space; the state of being kept as a prisoner - การถูกกักขัง, การถูกจองจำ
  • container: something used for storing or holding things - หีบบรรจุ
  • epic: an event or activity that lasts a long time and is difficult or complicated - งานที่ยิ่งใหญ่
  • forefront (noun): in or into an important or leading position in a particular group or activity - แถวหน้า, ตอนหน้า
  • globe (noun): the world, Earth, or a similar round-shaped planet - โลก
  • habitat: the type of place that a particular animal usually lives in or a particular plant usually grows in - ถิ่นที่อยู่ของพืชหรือสัตว์
  • pen (noun): a small piece of land surrounded by a fence in which farm animals are kept - คอก, เล้า, บริเวณล้อมรั้วสำหรับเลี้ยงสัตว์
  • sanctuary: a place where birds or animals can live and be protected, especially from hunters or dangerous conditions - เขตสงวนพันธุ์สัตว์ป่า

Do you like the content of this article?