Six years ago, the conservation charity Sea Life Trust began an ambitious operation transferring two 12-year-old female beluga whales from captivity in China to the world’s first open-sea beluga sanctuary in Iceland.
The two whales, named Little White and Little Grey, were born in Russia in 2008. They spent the first years of their lives in a whale research center after which, in 2011, they were transferred to Shanghai’s Changfeng Ocean World, where they performed for nine years. In 2012, Merlin Entertainments acquired the amusement park and began an extensive research process to find a new home for the animals. This is how Little White and Little Grey found themselves in the care of Sea Life Trust, which devised a plan to transport them to Iceland where they could live in a more natural environment.