Empty the Tanks

WeWhale hosts ‘Empty the Tanks’ rally in Lanzarote

WeWhale was delighted to take part again this year in Empty the Tanks, the worldwide protest against captivity of dolphins and whales.  

We organised a rally at Rancho Texas Lanzarote Park in Lanzarote on Saturday 11 May, where fellow dolphin and whale lovers joined us to protest and bring awareness to the vital issue.  

This is the eleventh year of Empty the Tanks, which is also marked online with photos and videos on social media. Both Empty the Tanks and Dolphin Project shared images and videos from protests around the world to remind us that we’re still united in this important cause. 

We look forward to a day when these kinds of protests are no longer needed – when the captivity of whales and dolphins by humans no longer exists. Until then, we’re committed to keeping the pressure on companies who imprison marine animals that belong in the wild.

Thank you to everyone who joined us on the day and also those who supported the cause online.  Learn more about Empty the Tanks 


Terry Wolkowicz

The WeWhale Pod Episode 15 - Terry Wolkowicz

Our guest for this episode of The WeWhale Pod is Terry Wolkowicz, Co-Founder and Educational Director of non profit organisation Sound Explorations.

Terry, who is based in New Bedford, Massachusetts, talks about the educational mission of the organisation. She also dives into one project in particular, Whales in Motion: A Musical and Sculptural Experience for the Blind and Visually Impaired. It combines tactile sculptures and live performance by musicians to facilitate blind and visually impaired people understanding and experiencing how whales move through the water and how they forage.

Terry also chats about the work going on in her local area to help Northern Atlantic right whales migrating off the coast of Massachusetts,  and the children's book she co-wrote with colleague David McKenzie called 'Right Whale, Wrong Letter'.

She also describes having the opportunity to help researchers to tag humpback whales and how that experience deeply changed her.

Take a listen to the episode below:

You can find out more about the work of Sound Explorations on their website, soundexplorations.org. And check out this video of the Whales in Motion event at Boston's Museum of Science for Massachusetts Right Whale Day.

Thanks to Skalaa Music for post-production.

You can listen to previous episodes on our Podcast Page.


sei whale

Deep dive...into Sei whales

The third largest whale species after blue whales and fin whales, sei whales are usually observed alone or in small groups.  

There’s still a lot to be learnt about sei whales including their migration patterns, current distribution and their behaviour, as they haven’t been well studied over the years. This is partly due to the fact that they live primarily offshore.   

The species can be found in subtropical, temperate and subpolar waters globally and are often found with pollock fish in Norway. This is how they get their name as ‘sei’ comes from the Norwegian word for pollock, ‘seje’.  

Weighing in at 20 tons, sei whales measure around 13 to 20 metres in length.  

They have a long and sleek body that’s bluish-grey to black in colour, with a white or cream colour on the underside. As it is a baleen whale, the species has baleen plates in their enormous mouths, which they filter their food through.  

Sei whales are also recognisable by their tall, hooked dorsal fins and are sometimes covered in circular shaped scars (most likely caused by bites from cookie-cutter sharks and  lampreys). They have a columnar blow that’s about three metres high.  

Sei whales glide through the water and are fast swimmers (reaching speeds of up to 50 kilometres an hour). They don’t dive the same way that we see other whales diving below the surface (arching their back and showing their flukes before submerging). Instead, the sei whale simply sinks below the water’s surface.  

They rarely show their flukes above water but leave ‘fluke prints’ on the surface of the water during shorter dives, and this is something that researchers watch out for when following sei whales.  

Sei whales are known to be quite playful at times and have been observed breaching. They are quite solitary or prefer smaller groups but these groups often increase in size when animals feed together. 

Two sub-species of sei whale are recognised – B.b.schlegelli in the southern hemisphere and B.b.borealis in the northern hemisphere.  

Where do sei whales live? 

While they’re found in subtropical, temperate and subpolar waters around the world, sei whales generally prefer temperate waters in the mid-latitudes. This means they’re found more often in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans.  

The movement patterns of the species are not well documented but they’re typically found in deeper ocean waters, far from the coastline.  

They usually feed in colder waters during summer and migrate to warmer waters in the winter but they don’t have stable migratory patterns compared to other baleen whales such as the humpback whale.  

sei whale

Population 

Due to the fact that Bryde’s whales and sei whales have (and still continue) to get confused for each other, it has made it difficult to estimate population numbers.  

The sei whale is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as endangered but with a population that is increasing (estimated population of 50,000). 

The global sei whale population was severely impacted by commercial whaling in the 19th and 20th centuries, with an estimated 300,000 individuals killed for their meat and oil. The species was heavily hunted in the 1950s and 1960s, when whalers turned their attention from the depleted blue whale and fin whale populations.  

In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) officially halted all commercial whaling. However, since its withdrawal from the IWC in 2019, Japan kills an estimated 50 sei whales a year under what it calls its ‘scientific’ whaling programme.  

What do they eat? 

Sei whales usually skim feed – swimming close to the water’s surface with their mouths open and throat pleats extended so that they scoop up plenty of plankton. They then filter out the water through their baleen plates, leaving them with their tasty food.  

They eat around 2,000 pounds of food a day, including fish, squid, krill and  plankton. They are spotted occasionally diving down to find food, particularly squid which is found at deeper ocean levels.  

Check out this video from Blue Planet of a sei whale feeding underwater: 

Threats to sei whales

Vessel strikes

Sei whales are at risk of vessel strikes throughout their range but as they tend to populate deeper offshore waters, they tend not to be found in areas with busy ship traffic. 

Environmental change and pollution

Sei whales, like other cetaceans, use noise to communicate and to locate prey. Increased noise pollution from vessels and other human activity interferes with this ability. 

Climate change and pollution are a threat to all whales and dolphins because of the loss of habitat as waters become warmer.

Plastics and micro plastics, along with chemical pollutants, entering into the water system are a serious threat to all creatures in our ocean. 

Entanglement in fishing gear

Like other cetaceans, sei whales can become entangled in fishing gear which goes on to cause injury, fatigue, comprised feeding and sometimes even death.  


Filipa Samarra

The WeWhale Pod Episode 14 - Filipa Samarra

Our guest for this episode of The WeWhale Pod is marine mammal biologist Dr Filipa Samarra, who is also the Founder and Lead Investigator of the Icelandic Orca Project.

Filipa shares what brought her from her native Portugal to Iceland and talks about her journey to becoming a marine biologist.

She also describes getting hooked on orca sound communication and chats about why we're so fascinated by orca as a species.

Find out more about the Icelandic Project.

Take a listen to the episode below:

Thanks to Skalaa Music for post-production.

You can listen to previous episodes on our Podcast Page.


Conservation programmes launched

Conservation Programmes launched on WeWhale website

WeWhale is excited to launch a new conservation programmes section on our website, showcasing three different programmes that passionate whale and dolphin lovers can take part in.

The Lanzarote Conservation Programme has been running since summer 2023 and is now joined by a new Tenerife programme and Iberian Orca programme.

Participants in the Canary Island programmes have the opportunity to be part of a unique movement and mission to make whale observation trips noise and emission free. They are enriching programmes - participants get to experience whales and dolphins in their natural habitat, learn about species and their behaviours, help to create awareness about the challenges they face, compile and build databases about whale and dolphin sightings, and get hands-on experience working with the WeWhale team.

There are plenty more highlights and aspects to the programmes, which can be found on each of the conservation pages.

The Iberian Orca Conservation Programme has been developed in tandem with WeWhale Association’s Save the Iberian Orca project.

The project, running between April and October, sets out to prevent attacks from boaters on the critically endangered Iberian Orca, survey the population, and track and analyse interactions among boats and orca. There is both a sea-based and land-based element to this programme, which participants will be fully involved in.

There are less than 35 Iberian Orcas left in the Strait of Gibraltar, where they are under increased pressure from maritime traffic, pollution and aggressive interactions from recreational boaters. The motivated and determined volunteers on our Iberian Orca Conservation Programme make a real difference in safeguarding this important whale species. Further information about the “Save the Iberian Orca” campaign can also be found at www.save-the-iberian-orca.org

Details on all of WeWhale’s Conservation Programmes, and how to apply, are on our website right now!


Save the Iberian orca

WeWhale launches ‘Save the Iberian Orca’ GoFundMe Campaign

A new campaign to help protect the critically endangered Iberian Orca has been launched by WeWhale Association (part of the WeWhale group).  

The small subpopulation (estimated to be ca.35 individuals), that lives in the Strait of Gibraltar from the beginning of April to the end of October, faces numerous threats including maritime traffic, pollution, and, increasingly, aggressive interactions from recreational boaters.  

WeWhale this week launched a GoFundMe campaign whereby animal lovers can donate money to help fund a comprehensive surveillance and protection programme, both at sea and on land.  

A sea-based team is planning to be on patrol five days a week, surveying the orca population, preventing attacks on the orca from boaters, and helping to avoid possible interactions between boats and orca. This work is being supported by Sea Shepherd France 

At the same time, a land-based crew will observe and monitor the orca population from strategic coastal locations.  

Donations to the GoFundMe will directly fund equipment and resources for the surveillance teams, research and analysis to better understand orca behaviour and interactions, and advocacy efforts to raise awareness and enforce protections for the Iberian Orca.

WeWhale is proud to launch the GoFundMe campaign with a special video, in partnership with zoologist and wildlife presenter Billy Heaney.

Save the Iberian orca

Billy features in the video, speaking about the reported interactions between Iberian Orca and boaters, particularly over the last three years, the reasons why these interactions are happening, and why these animals need to be protected via this campaign.  

Founder of WeWhale, Janek Andre said, “We are delighted to be launching this GoFundMe campaign, with a view to beginning the surveillance and protection programme this April. With only 35 individuals left, the situation is dire for Iberian orca.

“More than 500 interactions between Iberian Orca and boats have been reported from 2020 to 2023, escalating to the point where recreational boaters have begun to use violence, shooting at approaching orca.

“Continued interactions pose a significant threat to the survival of this important subpopulation and the years 2024, 2025 and 2026 are pivotal in ensuring their survival. We cannot stand by and do nothing while this population is increasingly under threat. The time to act is now. With your support, we can protect and preserve the Iberian Orca for generations to come.” 

In August 2023, a recreational boat crew was observed and filmed shooting at orca, as they were approaching the vessel in the Strait of Gibraltar.  

WeWhale, along with the World Cetacean Alliance and Sea Shepherd France,  filed charges against the captain and boat owner. This case is currently making its way through the Spanish court system.   

You can view the launch video here:  

And contribute to the Save the Iberian Orca GoFundMe page.   

For donations over €50, an Iberian Orca postcard will be sent to donors. The Iberian Orca apparel collection can be be bought under https://wewhale.co/shop and 100% of the profits of the collection will be dedicated to fund our campaign. All of these beautiful items are designed by ocean artist Rachel Brooks. 


Cuvier's beaked whale

Deep dive...into Cuvier's beaked whales

The Cuvier’s beaked whale is one of the larger members of the beaked whale family. Found in most oceans and seas around the world, the species has the most extensive geographical range of all the beaked whales.

It has a long robust body with a dark grey back and sides, and much paler belly and head. It also has panda-like dark eyes around each eye. In some locations, the Cuvier’s beaked whale appears to have a brownish body because it’s covered in algae.

The profile of its head is conical and is sometimes described as ‘goose-like’, which lends them the name ‘goose-beaked whales’. The jaw-line is slightly upturned which gives them a ‘smiling’ appearance.

Like other beaked whale species, males have a pair of small cone-shaped teeth (resembling tusks) that come out of the tip of their bottom jaw, and are often used for fighting.

Scars on their bodies come from scrapes they get into during their active lifestyles and also bites from other animals (such as cookiecutter sharks) or from competing males of the same species. Their scarring patterns help researchers to identify individuals.

Cuvier’s beaked whales have a slightly bulbous melon, an indistinct beak and a small curved dorsal fin located far down their backs. They weigh between 1,800 and 3,000 kilograms and reach lengths of between five to seven metres.

As they get older, the whales become paler and develop more significant indentation at the top of the head.

It’s often hard to distinguish between the many species of beaked whales and they are also challenging to observe when at sea due to them keeping a low profile, spending only limited times at the water’s surface and their small, inconspicuous blow. Beaked whales are sometimes confused with the northern bottlenose whale.

When at the surface, the species doesn’t often breach but when it does, it’s been observed as being torpedo-like.

Cuvier’s beaked whales are the deepest and longest-diving marine mammals in the world. The deepest known dive for this species was 2.9 kilometres and the longest known dive lasted a whopping 3 hours 42 minutes!  This was recorded in 2020 – see this Science News article  for more.

They dive deep so they can feed on cephalopods (squid and octopus) that live in the further reaches of the ocean.

Cuvier’s beaked whales are usually found on their own or in small groups of around two to seven individuals. Though they prefer small groups, they are quite sociable animals. Global records show that Cuvier’s beaked whales are the most frequently stranded species amongst the beaked whales.

The whale gets its name from Georges Cuvier, who first described the species in 1823 from a skull found on a beach in southern France.

Cuvier's beaked whale

Where do Cuvier’s beaked whales live?

The species is found in temperate, subtropical and tropical waters. Cuvier’s beaked whales prefer deep pelagic waters and are found in most oceans and seas worldwide (except for the polar seas).

A lot of the information we have on their locations is from stranding records as opposed to sightings, as they are usually far out in the ocean and remain underwater for long periods. Little is known of their migration patterns.

They are usually found in areas including the Bay of Biscay, British Columbia, the Gulf of California, Mediterranean Sea, the Shetlands, the Gulf of Mexico, Massachusetts coastline, New Zealand, South Africa and Tierra del Fuego in South America. There have also been recorded strandings in the Bahamas, Caribbean Sea and the Galapagos Islands.

Population

On the IUCN Conservation Red List of Threatened Species, the Cuvier’s beaked whale is listed as least concern. No global population figures exist but they are one of the most abundant of the beaked whale species.

What do they eat?

Cuvier’s beaked whales are big fans of squid and eat at least 47 types of it! They also eat fish and crustaceans.

Since they don’t have teeth (apart from the two small tusks that males have), they use a suction method in their mouth using their ventral throat grooves. This allows them to slurp and suck in squid and other food.

Threats to Cuvier’s beaked whales

Ocean noise

As they are deep diving whales, one of the biggest threats to Cuvier’s beaked whales is noise emitted from a ship’s sonar. This confuses their echolocation which they use to find food, to navigate and to communicate.

The species can panic and surface too quickly if frightened by noise. In which case, they suffer decompression sickness, or ‘the bends’, just like human divers too.

It’s thought that mass strandings of the species could be linked with military activity underwater – this has been reported particularly in the Bahamas, Caribbean Sea and Mediterranean Sea. There were instances in the Canary Islands but since naval exercises using sonar were banned there, no further mass strandings have taken place.

Entanglement in fishing gear

Like other cetaceans, Cuvier’s beaked whales can become entangled in fishing gear which goes on to cause injury, fatigue, comprised feeding, and sometimes even death.

Vessel strikes

Cuvier’s beaked whales are at risk of vessel strikes throughout their range but the threat is much higher in areas with busy ship traffic.

Environmental change and pollution

Climate change and pollution are a threat to all whales and dolphins because of the loss of habitat as waters become warmer.

Plastics and micro plastics, along with chemical pollutants, entering into the water system are a serious threat to all creatures in our ocean.

As Cuvier’s beaked whales are suction feeders, they sometimes mistake plastic bags and other plastic materials for prey and ingest them. They can settle in their stomach, causing them to starve and die.

Hunting

The species has been taken in Japanese whaling operations, usually opportunistically as part of a hunt for the larger Baird’s beaked whale.


Naomi Rose

The WeWhale Pod Episode 13 - Naomi Rose

Our guest for this episode of The WeWhale Pod is Naomi Rose, senior scientist (marine mammal biology) for the Animal Welfare Institute in Washington D.C. and marine mammal protection advocate.  

Naomi talks about her path into studying marine mammals and her particular love of orcas.

As a co-author of The Case Against Marine Mammals in Captivity report, Naomi explains that the body of science has grown over the years about whales and dolphins, along with other marine mammals, that are kept in captivity.

She chats also about the 'Blackfish Effect', which happened following the release of the groundbreaking documentary and her memories of visiting Tokitae, the orca who was kept for 53 years at Miami Seaquarium.

Take a listen to the episode below:

Thanks to Skalaa Music for post-production.

You can listen to previous episodes on our Podcast Page.


Deep dive…into Bottlenose dolphins

The bottlenose dolphin is one of the most well-studied marine mammals in the wild. Found in both inshore and offshore waters, it weighs approximately 200 kilograms and measures up to four metres long.   

There are two species of bottlenose dolphins – the common bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus) and the Indo-Pacific bottlenose (Tursiops aduncus) 

The common bottlenose species is instantly recognisable by its uniform grey colour (with a paler underside), its dorsal fin, and its stubby snout and elongated jaw (which often resembles a smile).  

The bottlenose is also a larger species compared to other dolphins, although the Indo-Pacific type is slightly smaller than its common bottlenose cousin. The Indo-Pacific also has spots on its belly and has more teeth.  

The cetacean is often known for its active and acrobatic style. It often breaches the water and bow rides with boats, regularly reaching speeds of up to 20 kilometres an hour.  

Highly intelligent, the bottlenose dolphin travels alone or in groups (often the groups break apart and later reform). Bottlenoses have complex social structures and are generally quite curious, often approaching people to investigate what’s going on. When resting in groups, the species forms tight groups. 

Bottlenose dolphins living closer to the coasts tend to be more territorial (squirmishes with harbour porpoises have been known to happen), while oceanic populations are more migratory in nature.

The dolphins use sound and echolocation, both to communicate and to hunt for food. Many of us would be aware of the interesting system of squeaks and whistles that they use.  

Recent research by the University of Rostock in Germany has revealed a fascinating new discovery about bottlenose dolphins. Already well-known for their intelligence and activeness, they’re now suspected to have an additional sensory ability – being able to detect weak electric fields. Find out more about in this Earth.com article 

They have relatively long lifespans, with an average life expectancy of 40 years. Females have been observed outliving their male counterparts, reaching 60 years of age or more. Some individuals are known to be reproductively active for their whole lives, which is unusual among mammals.  

The common bottlenose dolphin is listed as ‘least concern’ status on the IUCN Red List while the Indo-Pacific species is listed as ‘near threatened’ status.  

Where do bottlenose dolphins live? 

The common bottlenose dolphin is found in both inshore and offshore waters, typically found in temperate and tropical regions throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.  

The Indo-Pacific bottlenose prefers warmer waters and is usually spotted in the Indian Ocean and western Pacific Ocean. They prefer shallow coastal waters and can often be seen in or around estuaries (one particular group, for instance, has made their home in the busy Port River in Adelaide, Australia).  

bottlenose dolphin

What do they eat? 

Bottlenose dolphins are quite adaptable, adjusting their food source depending on their environment. Most often, they will eat salmon, blue whiting, pollock, squid and crustaceans (shrimp and crabs).  

They often work together to herd fish into groups, and then take turns swimming through the school of fish to feed themselves. They also use high frequency echolocation to locate their prey.  

When they’re eating, they grip the fish with their teeth and then swallow it whole so the spines of the fish don’t catch in their throats. Bottlenose dolphins eat up to seven kilograms of food a day.  

Threats to bottlenose dolphins

Entanglement in fishing gear

Getting caught up in fishing gear is a major threat to bottlenose dolphins around the world. It can cause injury, fatigue, comprised feeding and sometimes even death.

Dolphins particularly get caught up in commercial fishing nets for tuna.  

Vessel strikes

Bottlenose dolphins are at risk of vessel strikes throughout their range but the threat is much higher in areas with busy ship traffic.

Environmental change and pollution

Climate change and pollution are a threat to all dolphins and whales because of the loss of habitat as waters become warmer.

Plastics and microplastics, along with chemical pollutants, entering into the water system are a serious threat to all creatures in our ocean.

Research shows that bottlenose dolphins in areas affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill were found to have compromised immune systems and decreased reproductive ability. Bottlenose dolphins living near the shore are more susceptible to habitat destruction and pollution caused by contaminants and oil spills.  

Bottlenose dolphins can also be affected by harmful algal blooms, when they absorb toxins through the air or by eating contaminated prey. It can cause health issues or even death.

Bottlenose dolphins, like other cetaceans, use noise to communicate and to locate prey. Increased noise pollution from vessels and other human activity interferes with this ability. 

Hunting/Predators 

Bottlenose dolphins were once widely hunted for meat and oil, but that has fallen away over the years. Sadly, though, some limited dolphin hunting still occurs around the world.

As with other dolphin species, bottlenose dolphins are occasionally the prey of orcas and large sharks.  


Whale and dolphin sanctuaries

Deep Dive…into Whale and Dolphin Sanctuaries

Providing protection for whales and dolphins and acting as havens for formerly captive cetaceans, sanctuaries around the world play a vital role. We take a closer look at four whale and dolphin sanctuaries, some of which already exist and some which are currently in development (we’re counting the days till they become a reality!) 

Umah Lumba Dolphin Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Centre 

The world’s first permanent dolphin rehabilitation, release and retirement facility for former performing dolphins, the Umah Lumba Centre is located in West Bali in Indonesia.  

Umah Lumba means “dolphin house” in Balinese. The idea for the facility was initiated in 2019 by BKSDA Bali Forestry Department and the Ministry of Forestry, working with local partners Jakarta Animal Aid Network to supply human power and Dolphin Project to provide financial support and supervision.  

The Centre stabilises recently confiscated dolphins from captive facilities and also aids stranded or injured dolphins. Once they are returned to good health, an assessment is made whether they’re good candidates for readaptation and release into the wild (in which case, they’re taken to Camp Lumba Lumba Readaptation and Release Centre).  

If they’re not suitable candidates for release, dolphins are provided with a wonderful retirement home at the Umah Lumba Centre. They live out their lives in peace and comfort in a secure sea pen.  

Two of the success stories at the Centre are Rambo and Rocky, who were amongst the group of dolphins rescued from the Melka Excelsior Hotel in Bali (where they performed for many years in small concrete pools). They regained their health and strength at Umah Lumba and re-learned how to catch live prey through live fish feedings.  

In 2022, the dolphins, along with another dolphin Johnny, were given the choice of returning to the open ocean when the gates of the Centre were opened for them. 

Unsurprisingly, they took the chance to swim free! The Centre continues to monitor the dolphins to check on their wellbeing.  

As well as focusing on dolphin rehab and re-release, the Umah Lumba Centre provides medical aid and rehabilitation for turtles, including many endangered species.  

Find out more: The Dolphin Project – Bali Sanctuary

You can also listen to The WeWhale Podcast Episode 4 with Femke den Haas, who is involved with the Umah Lumba Centre.  

Whale and dolphin sanctuaries

The Whale Sanctuary Project 

This world class coastal sanctuary for whales and dolphins is being developed in Nova Scotia, Canada. Its vision is to have cetaceans living in an environment that maximises wellbeing and autonomy and is as close as possible to their natural habitat. It’s also being designed as a model for other sanctuaries to be built all over the world in years to come.  

The idea for the sanctuary is very simple – there are already many sanctuaries for land animals like elephants, lions, and tigers, who are being retired from zoos and circuses. Now it’s time to provide such a sanctuary for whales and dolphins held in marine theme parks.  

The Whale Sanctuary Project was incorporated in Washington DC in April 2016 as a non-profit.  

After researching more than 130 locations in the U.S. and Canada, the Project selected Port Halford Bay in Nova Scotia as the best site to create a coastal sanctuary. The site is located on the ancestral lands of the Mi’kmaq people, a First Nations community, and their guidance and consultation has been a central part of the sanctuary development process.  

The sanctuary will be as large as 50 football fields and 300 times larger than the biggest captive whale tanks.  

Works have been ongoing over the past three years into site development, environmental studies and other types of surveys at the location, to get everything just right for the future sanctuary.  

The Whale Sanctuary Project will be home to whales born into captivity who’ve never experienced life in the ocean with their family (the two species needing care are orcas and belugas). They need lifetime care so they can thrive in a natural setting as close as possible to what they’d experience in the open ocean.  

If injured, stranded or recently captured whales are brought to the sanctuary, the plan is to treat and assess them, and every effort will be made to release them into the wild again. There are plans for an interpretative centre at the location and a viewing platform at the far side of the bay for people to view the whales from a respectful distance.  

Find out more: The Whale Sanctuary Project

Whale and dolphin sanctuaries

Sealife Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary & Puffin Rescue Centre  

Situated in the Vestmannaeyjar islands off the south coast of Iceland, the Sealife Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary & Puffin Rescue Centre enjoys all the benefits of being in a relatively secluded and sheltered bay.  

Its beluga whale residents are Little White and Little Grey, who travelled close to 10,000 kilometres via air, land and sea, from their previous home in a Shanghai Water Park. The belugas had originally been born in Russian waters before they were taken captive.  

Klettsvik Bay, measuring up to 10 metres deep, gives significant space for the belugas to swim, dive and explore. There is room for up to 10 belugas at the sanctuary with hopes that other captive belugas will be rehabilitated there.  

To keep the whales safe, the bay itself is enclosed by netting from the surface to the sea bed. There’s a special pontoon and care pool area to give access to the expert care team to look after Little Whale and Little Grey. There’s also a landside care facility at the sanctuary, and guest can visit seasonally from April to October (their visits help to fund the care for the belugas and puffins).  

Find out more: Sealife Trust Beluga Sanctuary & Puffin Rescue  

Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary 

This sanctuary is currently in development to provide expert care and rehabilitation to sick and injured marine animals in and around the Greek Islands. It also will be home to formerly captive dolphins, who can thrive in a pristine natural environment.  

The Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary (AMLS) is situated on the island of Lipsi in the Northern Dodecanese group of islands. After six years of thorough research, Vroulia Bay on the northwest of Lipsi was chosen as the preferred location.  

The sanctuary bay has all of the natural conditions and stimuli essential for the physical and psychological wellbeing of bottlenose dolphins (the dolphin species most often held in captivity) along with other cetacean species.  

The long fjord provides safe shelter from rough seas and the bay has ideal water conditions and sea currents to host marine animals in need of care. There’s even a shallow section that’s perfect for rehabilitation, along with deeper areas up to 40 metres in length.  

A derelict building is being transformed into a redesigned rehab and research centre. A veterinary clinic, rehabilitation pools and general laboratory will all be present in the new sanctuary building.  

The AMLS plans to have a viewing platform on a hill above the bay so visitors can observe the dolphins and other marine animals from a distance (preventing any possible disturbances to the species).  

Find out more: Aegean Sanctuary