North America's First Whale Sanctuary Set To Open In 2023

Feb 11, 2022by Olivia - F&F

North America’s first whale sanctuary — located in Nova Scotia, Canada — will provide a new life for previously-captive whales!

Whale Sanctuary Project CanadaWhale Sanctuary Project Canada

A ‘Place To Call Home’ For Eight Previously-Captive Whales!

Non-profit conservation organisation, Whale Sanctuary Project, is one step closer to creating North America’s first-ever whale sanctuary. The new sanctuary will provide 110 acres of habitat for around eight whales, all of which have been rescued from a life in captivity! By 2023, Whale Sanctuary is expected to raise $20 million to complete and fund the sanctuary.

In Port Hilford Bay, Nova Scotia, several beluga whales and orca whales will enjoy a large open space under the watchful eye of the Whale Sanctuary Project. In a press release, the Whale Sanctuary Project said the habitat will be “rich in plant and animal life — a place the whales can truly call home”. 

The Whale Sanctuary Project is working closely with the Canadian Government and the Mi’kmaq.

Orca Natural HabitatOrca Natural Habitat

How Did The Whale Sanctuary Project Choose The Location?

For Charles Vinick, Executive Director of Whale Sanctuary Project, and Dr. Lori Marino, Founder and President, choosing the perfect location for the whale sanctuary was no easy feat! It took several months of gathering environmental data to assess various aspects of the area — like water depth, chemistry, salinity, temperature, and more. 

According to the Whale Sanctuary Project, “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. For example, it should be deep in some places and shallow in others with a sandy seafloor in some parts and a variable seafloor in others.” 

Whale Sanctuary Project Operations CenterWhale Sanctuary Project Operations Center

The Whale Sanctuary Will Educate Visitors, Too!

Recently, the non-profit celebrated the opening of its Sanctuary Operations Center, where visitors can go to learn about the sanctuary. “We were there to celebrate this major milestone in our project and the next step in achieving our goal of creating the first seaside sanctuary for belugas and orcas in North America,” the Whale Sanctuary Project said.

The Sanctuary Operations Center is roughly a 20-minute drive from the sanctuary. It’s designed to be an educational facility, but also a base for the Whale Sanctuary Project team to carry out their work with the rescued whales.

"Visitors will be able to watch interactive video displays to learn about the sanctuary, whales in general and whales in captivity.

Orca Whale In CaptivityOrca Whale In Captivity

Canada Passed The ‘Ending the Captivity of Whales & Dolphins Act’

The plans for this whale sanctuary came after Canada passed the Ending of Captivity of Whales & Dolphins Act. This act prevents whales, dolphins and porpoises from being captured, held and bred in captivity and used for entertainment! 

This new sanctuary is designed to let the whales live in their natural habitat with enough room to socialise and engage in their natural behaviours. However, because these animals have spent their entire lives in captivity, they lack the necessary skills to survive in the wild. This is why the large area will be enclosed with underwater nets.

It’s estimated that around 200 beluga whales and 50 orcas are still living in captivity all around the world. These extremely intelligent animals do not belong in captivity.

There’s still a long way to go to free all whales from captivity, but this new sanctuary represents a positive step forward for captive whales in North America. We can expect the Whale Sanctuary Project to open the new sanctuary in 2023! For more information and updates about this fantastic project, check out the Whale Sanctuary Project website.

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