Intermediate Habitat Construction
Little Grey and Little White’s welfare will always be our top priority. After observing the whales in the sea sanctuary during 2020, our expert care team decided to build an intermediate habitat to help bring about a safe and successful transition for the whales from the sea care pools to the main bay. Construction and installation of the 'halo' intermediate habitat is now complete and ready for the belugas´return to the bay in 2023.
This intermediate habitat will help to create an additional step for both Little Grey and Little White to transition into the bay in their own time, as well as any additional beluga whales who will join them in the future.
During the whales’ time in the main bay, they adapted at different paces, and while both had positive experiences, Little White acclimatised at a slower pace. Our animal care team and veterinary experts made careful observations of the behaviours of both belugas throughout the acclimatisation process. The differences in their ways of adapting to the larger bay area indicated the benefits, for Little White in particular, to have a middle-step in her adjustment to a larger and more natural environment.
After the four months that Little White and Little Grey spent in the sea sanctuary in 2020, the return into their landside facilities was planned to be just for the winter season, but following a series of significant supply chain issues driven by the Coronavirus pandemic, the critical adaptations to the sanctuary were unable to be completed before summer 2021 (before the beluga whales returned into it) and therefore means they will move back as soon as the works have been completed and the weather is right in spring 2022.
The new intermediate habitat will be a large circular area fixed in place next to the existing sea sanctuary care pools. It will be 160 metres in circumference (2000sqm) and will allow access to the sea floor which will give the whales more access to natural flora and fauna of the bay as they adjust to the more natural surroundings.
The structure will also give the care team closer proximity to Little Grey and Little White during that acclimatisation process, alongside new staff accommodation on site on the pontoons. This will allow the team to closely observe the whales’ behaviour and preferences and help make the adjustment to the new surroundings positive at every step.
Little Grey and Little White continue to do well in their temporary landside care pool and we will continue to care for their welfare needs, as well as getting them ready for their move into the bay as part of the ‘Little Steps’ programme as soon as we can in spring 2022.
Intermediate Habitat Renderings
You can support the ongoing welfare costs for Little White and Little Grey, including the new intermediate habitat construction, by making a donation or symbolically adopting a beluga.