The Maritime province of Nova Scotia, Canada, will soon be home to the first whale sanctuary in North America.
The plans for the sanctuary, which is spearheaded by The Whale Sanctuary Project, commenced after Canada passed the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, which prevents whales and dolphins from being held in captivity, especially for entertainment. As of right now, there are more than 220 beluga whales and 53 orca whales that are held captive around the world. These highly intelligent and social creatures suffer in small and confined spaces, which they are often forced to inhabit at aquariums and marine parks.
The new sanctuary is set to be located in Port Hilford Bay and will include 110 acres of habitat, a space that can comfortably accommodate around eight whales. Port Hilford Bay was selected because it could offer the whales and other wildlife an enriching environment to explore.
“The 110 acres that will be the whales’ home need to be in an environment that’s interesting, varied and enriching, safe and healthy, both for them and for all the other living creatures who inhabit the bay.” The Whale Sanctuary Project was announced in a press release. “For example, it should be deep in some places and shallow in others; with sandy seafloor in some parts and a variable seafloor in others—rich in plant and animal life and basically a place the whales can truly call home.”
The recently opened operations center for the sanctuary will be a short 20-minute drive away, and will also act as an educational hub for visitors.
“Visitors will be able to watch interactive video displays to learn about the sanctuary,” said the nonprofit. “They can learn about whales in general, and about whales in captivity and how their lives will be changed when they are retired to the natural environment of a sanctuary.”
The Whale Sanctuary Project collaborated with locals, such as members of the Mi’kmaq Nation, other nearby communities, local fishermen, and the government to form the whales’ sanctuary, which will be a home for whales rescued from captivity.
The organization hopes to raise $20 million for the project, which they plan to open in 2023.