World’s first beluga whale sanctuary will welcome new arrivals

June 28, 2018 by  
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In 2019, two beluga whales, named Little Grey and Little White, will be transported from the Changfeng Ocean World aquarium in Shanghai to the world’s first whale sanctuary in a protected bay in Iceland . Established by the SEA LIFE Trust in collaboration with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation , the 32,000-square-meter Beluga Whale Sanctuary site was chosen for its sub-arctic climate and seclusion. “It’s really important for Little White and Little Grey, providing them with a more natural home in which to live out the rest of their lives,” head of the SEA LIFE Trust Andy Bool told Reuters . The whales are already being prepped for their journey and the colder waters of their new home through exercises designed to increase their strength and their ability to hold their breath underwater. With its stores of blubber and echolocation refined for finding holes in the sea ice through which to breathe, the beluga whale is well adapted to Arctic waters. The beluga is also a very social animal, typically living in groups of up to 10, though gatherings of hundreds or thousands of whales can occur in summer. While the species as a whole is not considered threatened, populations in certain regions, such as the Cook Inlet in Alaska , are endangered. Related: A beluga whale living with dolphins learned to “speak their language” In addition to their exercise regimen, Little Grey and Little White, both 12-year-old females, will be fed increased calories and gradually eased into using a stretcher, with which they will be restrained for part of their journey to their new home. Those who have made this sanctuary possible hope that it will set an example for other wildlife entertainment parks to release their animals into the wild. Whale and Dolphin Conservation captivity campaign manager Cathy Williamson told Reuters , “We believe this will inspire other facilities to move their belugas and other whales and dolphins to sanctuaries in other parts of the world.” + SEA LIFE Trust + Whale and Dolphin Conservation Via Reuters Images via Salva Barbera and Sheila Sund

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World’s first beluga whale sanctuary will welcome new arrivals

Beluga Whales Endangered by Fossil Fuel Extraction in Alaska

January 8, 2013 by  
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The beluga whale, also known as the “Canary of the Sea,” could become as much of a harbinger of danger as its feathered namesake. The pure white whales of Cook Inlet, Alaska are at a great risk of extinction due to fossil fuel extraction. Genetically distinct and physically isolated from other belugas, groups such as the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) have petitioned to have the animals and their habitats protected under the Endangered Species Act. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the entire population of Cook Inlet beluga whales for 2012 numbered at only 321, a drastic reduction from the 1,300 whales that existed several decades before. As of 2008, the government listed the Cook Inlet beluga whale under the Endangered Species Act. The protection was upheld in 2011 by a federal judge, thanks in large part to efforts by environmental activists. However, due to activities related to oil and gas drilling, industrial development, ship strikes, pollution, and a proposed mining project, the whales remain threatened by humans. Of particular concern is the use of airguns  during fossil fuel exploration. As one of the loudest manmade sounds, the process harms the whales’ sensitive hearing and disrupts their ability to feed and breed. There is also evidence that such a cacophony, repeated once every ten seconds for months at a time, can severely depress commercial fish catches. At present, the NRDC has filed a lawsuit against the Apache Alaska Corporation’s permit that allows them to kill 30 whales a year as a result of their energy exploration and extraction. They are also opposing the Pebble Mine, which would require the construction of a new deep water port, marine terminal, and slurry pipelines in beluga habitat. To find out what you can do to help the Cook Inlet beluga whale, visit the NRDC page for more information and to sign their petition. + NRDC Via ecowatch.org Image via Wikimedia Commons user Russavia

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Beluga Whales Endangered by Fossil Fuel Extraction in Alaska

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