In the Picture - Olympus to photograph the epic journey of two Beluga whales to the world’s first open water whale sanctuary

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

  • Professional photography brand Olympus becomes the official photography partner working with SEA LIFE Trust on the ground-breaking project which will see two beluga whales, Little Grey and Little White, moving 6,000 miles from China to Iceland this Spring.


  • Leading wildlife photographer and Olympus ambassador Tesni Ward will shadow the epic journey which will become the source for a dedicated photographic book and touring photographic exhibition later this year.

April 2019: The SEA LIFE TRUST has today announced that leading photography brand Olympus will capture the complex journey to relocate two beluga whales Little Grey and Little White as they travel 6,000 miles from China to Iceland this spring.  


The complex journey will be shot by Olympus wildlife ambassador Tesni Ward, who will follow the belugas move from Changfeng Ocean World in Shanghai, China, via land, air and eventually by sea to the large sanctuary in a natural bay at Heimaey, one of the Westman Islands, located off the southern coast of Iceland.


British wildlife photographer Ward has been chosen to document the journey which will see the two beluga whales move to the world’s first open water sanctuary bay this summer. The bay, which measures 32,000 sqm with a depth of up to 10m has been chosen to provide a more natural sub-Arctic environment and wild habitat for these amazing whales to call home.


Andy Bool, Head of SEA LIFE Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working with Olympus to document this amazing world-first moment. It’s so important to us that this journey is documented as the important and historic moment it is - providing a more natural home for Little White and Little Grey, its first inhabitants and as a better alternative for captive whales and dolphins everywhere. We already know Tesni has a love for wildlife but hopefully she will also capture the passion, devotion and hard work that has been put in to this project.”


Bool continues: “A huge number of people have been working for years to make this project a success and to ensure that Little Grey & Little White make the journey to their new home. We think the photos will play a huge part in telling that important story and with the generosity of Olympus all profits of the book produced will be going back to the SEA LIFE Trust to ensure we can provide Little Grey and Little White with the best possible care in the future.”


Anthony Newman, Global Brand Director, Sea Life (Merlin Entertainments) added:

“I couldn’t be prouder of the amazing work SEA LIFE Trust and Merlin Entertainments are doing to build the world’s first whale sanctuary. It’s fantastic that Olympus are partnering with us to photograph and document this unique and inspiring moment in history so that we can share it with the world.”


Olympus added: ‘Olympus are extremely excited to be the exclusive imaging sponsor of the project and are working with our wildlife photography ambassador Tesni Ward to document the entire journey resulting in an exhibition at our London gallery to share this amazing story. Animal welfare is an extremely important issue not only to Olympus but also for Tesni and we look forward to sharing her imagery to depict the emotion and process in securing these animals into their new home in Iceland'.


Created in partnership with the Whale & Dolphin Conservation (WDC), the SEA LIFE TRUST Beluga Whale Sanctuary is one of the biggest developments in captive whale and dolphin care and protection in decades and the first of its kind to be created for cetaceans.


Visitors to Heimaey will be able to learn more about Little White and Little Grey and the sanctuary in a landside visitor centre which was completed in March 2019. It will offer limited and discreet viewing of the whales. This will be very carefully controlled to ensure the two whales will not be disturbed in their new and very natural environment.


Backed by a donation from Merlin Entertainments and supported by the world’s largest chain of family aquariums, SEA LIFE, the sanctuary will comprise of a stunning natural sea inlet in Klettsvik Bay and include a landside care facility and visitor centre.


The Olympus partnership was brokered by Reg&Co Ltd.


For more information about the SEA LIFE TRUST Beluga Whale Sanctuary, visit




For further information please contact Andrew Boocock at Stripe Communications on 020 7655 9968 or email:


Notes to Editors:



SEA LIFE TRUST is a registered charity (no. 1175859) working globally to protect the world’s oceans and the amazing marine life that lives within them. Our vision is of a world where our seas are healthy, protected and full of diverse life.  We own and operate marine wildlife sanctuaries, run inspiring conservation campaigns and fund projects and education programmes that champion the need for plastic-free oceans, sustainable fishing, effective Marine Protected Areas and an end to over-exploitation of marine life.


About Olympus

Olympus Europa is the headquarters for the region EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) of the Olympus Corporation, Tokyo, Japan. As a worldwide leading manufacturer of optical and digital precision technology, Olympus provides innovative solutions for state-of-the-art medical systems, digital cameras as well as scientific solutions. The company’s award-winning products are instrumental in detecting, preventing and healing illness, driving scientific research and documenting life with artistic freedom. In the hands of its customers, Olympus’ high-tech products help to make people’s lives healthier, safer and more fulfilling. For more information:


Tesni Ward


About WDC

WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation is the leading charity dedicated to the protection of whales and dolphins, working globally through campaigns, lobbying, advising governments, conservation projects, field research, rescue, education and much more. WDC operates through offices in the UK, North America, Germany and Australia. Our vision is a world where every whale and dolphin is safe and free.



SEA LIFE is the world’s largest family of aquariums. From its origins in 1979 in Oban, Scotland, SEA LIFE now provides immersive marine experiences in nearly 50 sites in 17 countries around the world.  We aim share our passion for the creatures of the oceans and to make our guests fall in love with them.


About Merlin Entertainments plc

Merlin Entertainments plc is a global leader in location based, family entertainment. As Europe’s Number 1 and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator we aim to deliver memorable experiences to more than 65 million visitors at 120 attractions, 18 hotels and 6 holiday villages across 25 countries.