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Cargolux transports 2 beluga whales from China to Iceland

June 20, 2019: Cargolux Airlines has safely delivered two beluga whales, Little Grey and Little White, from China to Iceland in an epic relocation by its 747-400ERF freighter plane.

The two former captive whales
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The two former captive whales

June 20, 2019: Cargolux Airlines has safely delivered two beluga whales, Little Grey and Little White, from China to Iceland in an epic relocation by its 747-400ERF freighter plane.

The Sea Life Trust confirmed that Little Grey and Little White arrived at Keflavik Airport (Iceland's International Airport) after the first leg of their landmark 6,000 mile journey. The final stage of the their journey will be by truck and ferry to the world's first open water sanctuary for beluga whales.

The two former captive whales' new home will be 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 Pu Dong airport, the whales were loaded onto a specially branded Cargolux freighter. The procedure was successful and the aircraft departed Shanghai.

Little Grey and Little White were monitored by their care teams to ensure they remained safe and comfortable throughout the 11.30-12-hour flight. A Cargolux engineer and a team of global veterinary experts with experience in transporting marine mammals were also on board, to guarantee the whales' welfare, whilst ensuring flight safety requirements were upheld.

Sea-Life-Trust-confirmed-that-Little-Grey

Richard Forson, Cargolux president and chief executive officer, said: "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. This epic relocation required complex logistical efforts, and we are proud to have been part of this incredible journey. We hope that Little Grey and Little White rapidly adapt to their new home and that their story will serve as a precedent for other cetaceans held in captivity."

The 747-400ERF freighter plane was welcomed onto the tarmac with a ceremonial water salute from two fire trucks firing a water arc over the plane, in celebration of Iceland's newest residents' safe arrival.

Andy Bool, head of Sea Life Trust, said: "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. We'll continue to carefully monitor the whales but we're pleased with their overall progress and welfare checks, which have been taking place throughout the relocation. The co-ordination of this project has been down to so many people and we're extremely grateful for all their hard work, and are thrilled this epic journey has gone as planned."

Created in partnership with global marine wildlife charity, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), the Sea Life Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary will be the world's first open water sanctuary for beluga whales in what is a ground-breaking global marine welfare project. The bay, which measures approximately 32,000 sqm with a depth of up to 10m has been chosen to provide a more natural sub-Arctic environment and wilder habitat for these amazing whales to call home.

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