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SEA LIFE Trust partners with Cargolux to transport Beluga Whales to Icelandic sanctuary

SEA LIFE Trust partners with Cargolux to transport Beluga Whales to Icelandic sanctuary
January 21, 2019

Merlin Entertainment’s conservation partner charity, the SEA LIFE Trust has announced that all-cargo airline Cargolux has become the official transport partner of the Trust and project partner, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) to help relocate two 12 year old beluga whales, Little Grey and Little White, 9500 kilometres from China to Iceland in March 2019.

The whales are currently kept at Changfeng Ocean World in Shanghai, where they perform for visitors. SEA LIFE Trust has spent six years developing this project.

Cargolux’s specially branded plane which features Little Grey and Little White on the Boeing 747-400ERF freighter, will help transport the two whales along with a care team to the world’s first open water sanctuary for beluga whales at Klettsvik Bay in Iceland’s Westman Islands, which was the location for the film Free Willy.

Richard Forson, Cargolux President and Chief Executive, advised “Cargolux is honoured to have been entrusted with two such incredible whales. This is a ground-breaking project and one which our animal transport experts are proud to be part of. We are meticulously preparing for the move to ensure a seamless journey for Little Grey and Little White."

Andy Bool, Head of SEA LIFE Trust added “this is a complex but truly inspiring project to be working on and we are extremely grateful to Cargolux for their generosity in becoming our official transport partner and helping us move Little White and Little Grey to their new, more natural home. Cargolux has years of experience working on many of the most logistically intricate projects and their teams have been working with our animal care team, veterinarians and marine experts to ensure we provide the very best journey for Little Grey and Little White.

“We have also been working with Little Grey and Little White for months preparing them for the journey which includes specialist equipment and bespoke stretchers as well as a whole host of leading animal experts who will work around-the-clock as the whales make the journey to their new home.

“Little White and Little Grey have been in the aquarium since 2011.They’re still relatively young. Belugas can live to 40 or 50 years old in the wild. So the aim of the sanctuary is to provide a home for them for the rest of their natural life.

The secluded bay will be the world’s first open water sanctuary for beluga whales in a ground-breaking global marine welfare project. The 32,000 metres2 bay with a depth of up to 10 metres has been chosen to provide a more natural sub-Arctic environment and wild habitat.

The undertaking by Cargolux is a natural follow-up to the increasing amount of measures that the airline has taken to raise awareness about the necessity to promote conservation, preserve the environment, and fight illegal animal trade.  Cargolux has a history of engagement for environmental consciousness, and animal welfare in particular. As a signatory of the UN Global Compact and a company committed to the UN’s Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals, conservation and sustainable development rank high on Cargolux’s list of priorities. Partnerships such as this one are of prime importance for the airline and reflect its engagement and that of its employees.

Transport Logistics
The complex logistical challenge of transporting two beluga whales by air, land and sea is being carefully planned by a team of global experts with experience in transporting marine mammals. The 9500 kilometre journey will take around 24 hours to complete - from the time Little Grey and Little White leave Shanghai and arrive at the sanctuary on Heimaey Island.

1. Each beluga will be individually lifted onto specially designed stretchers measured to their physical requirements and carefully placed into specially built transportation boxes before they are lifted out of the aquarium by crane and placed carefully into two lorries.

 2. Little Grey and Little White will then travel by road, from Changfeng Ocean World to Pu Dong International airport, where Cargolux will be waiting on the runway to fly them to Keflavik Airport in Iceland.

3. Following the flight, Little Grey and Little White will be transferred on to two individual lorries on a two hour drive from the airport to the ferry port and then transported by ferry from the airport to Heimaey, a crossing that takes around 30 minutes.

 4. Once the ferry has docked on Heimaey Island, the lorries will drive a short distance to the town of Vestmannaeyjar where Little Grey and Little White will be transferred to the beluga sanctuary landside facility and placed into a special care pool so they can be assessed following their journey.

For more information about the SEA LIFE TRUST Beluga Whale Sanctuary, visit www.sealifetrust.org.

Related Articles

7th December 2018 - The return of the Bilby to National Park marks a significant outcome for Australian Wildlife Conservancy

28th November 2018 - Merlin Entertainments opens children’s immersive indoor attraction in Shanghai 

29th October 2018 - 120th birthday sees Perth Zoo celebrate changing conservation role

23rd October 2018 - Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s wins Environmental Excellence Award

17th October 2018 - New brands and resort theme parks drive Merlin Entertainments growth

29th June 2018 - Merlin Entertainments announces creation of SEA LIFE Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary

2nd June 2018 - Sea Life Sydney Aquarium awarded for offering best large animal exhibit


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