A Retirement Home For Captive Beluga Whales Is In The Works In Nova Scotia

The sanctuary would become a home for six to eight beluga whales.
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A Beluga Whale Sanctuary In Nova Scotia Is In The Works

Waters off the coast of Canada could soon become a safe haven for whales that were raised in captivity. A beluga whale sanctuary in Nova Scotia is in the works and would be a retirement home for the whales. It could take a few years for this to happen but the whales will be able to live the rest of their lives in the open ocean and not in tanks.

The Whale Sanctuary Project, a U.S. based conservation group, is in talks with residents and government officials in the Sheet Harbour and Sherbrooke areas of the province in hopes of setting up a place for once captive beluga whales to live.

"We are focusing on Nova Scotia for the site for [our] first sanctuary for captive beluga whales," said Lori Marino, president of The Whale Sanctuary Project, to The Canadian Press.

The Whale Sanctuary Project is planning to set up a retirement community for belugas that were raised in captivity and two places in rural Nova Scotia are being looked at as possible sites for the sanctuary. 

Beluga whales mainly inhabit the Arctic and sub-Arctic waters and during the summer, they can be found in the deep waters along the coasts of northern Canada, Alaska, western Greenland and northern Russia.

But they do go as far south as the St. Lawrence River, so the Atlantic waters would be a suitable choice. 

Since whales raised in captivity can't be fully released into the wild because they never learned the skills needed to fend for themselves, the belugas won't be completely on their own.

Of the two sites being looked at, the group is leaning towards the site south of Sheet Harbour.

The group's plan is to create a 40-hectare enclosure using nets around an inshore area known as The Gates, which is between Malagash Island, West Gibbs Island and East Gibbs Island. 

According to Marino, the ocean area the belugas would be in would actually be 300 times larger than the largest whale tank in any marine park.

In September 2019, Ontario's Marineland was allowed to ship two of their beluga whales to Spain despite there being a law that makes importing or exporting aquatic animals an offence in Canada. 

A bill passed in June 2019 bans the captivity of future animals but parks like Marineland were able to keep the animals they already had in captivity.

Belugas from Marineland could possibly end up at the sanctuary in Nova Scotia, as long as they get the go-ahead from local residents and officials. 

The sanctuary would have a veterinary clinic staffed full-time and an interpretation centre nearby.

If it gets approved, the sanctuary could be home to between six and eight beluga whales from some of the 200 belugas currently kept in captivity in marine parks and aquariums around the world.

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