Cargolux Airlines International has relocated Little Grey and Little White the beluga whales, flying them 6,000 miles from China to Iceland.
The flight, originally scheduled for April but re-scheduled to June due to weather conditions, covered 6,000 miles from Shanghai Pudong to Keflavik International Airport, touching down in the afternoon of 19 June.
The whales will now continue onto their new home, a large sanctuary in a natural bay on Heimaey, one of the Westman Islands located off the southern coast of Iceland.
The two belugas were transported in custom-made slings designed to their exact physical requirements, and were then placed in tailored containers.
After a lorry trip from Changfeng Ocean World to Shanghai Pudong airport, the whales were loaded onto a specially branded Cargolux Boeing 747-400ERF.
Little Grey and Little White were monitored by their care teams during their 12-hour flight, with a Cargolux engineer and a team of global veterinary experts also on board to guarantee the whale’s wellbeing whilst ensuring flight safety requirements were upheld.
Andy Bool, head of Sea Life Trust says: “We’re absolutely delighted Little Grey and Little White have safely touched down in Iceland. This is a complex but inspiring project and we’ve been working with the whales for months helping to prepare them for travelling to their new home.”
Richard Forson, president and CEO of Cargolux says: “We are delighted that Little Grey and Little White enjoyed a seamless journey onboard our Cargolux aircraft. The success of this undertaking is the reflection of the dedication and commitment of teams across all of our organisations who worked tirelessly to make this happen.”
The sheltered bay will be the world’s first open water sanctuary for beluga whales, measuring 32,000 sq m with a depth of up to 10 metres, providing a more natural sub-Arctic environment and wilder habitat.