MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — Mystic Aquarium welcomed five new beluga whales to their facility this weekend.
The whales were flown in a chartered cargo plane from Marineland in Ontario, Canada to Groton Airport Friday night into Saturday morning. The effort required two separate flights and then transportation in specially-designed containers on flatbed trucks.
Upon arrival to Mystic Aquarium, the whales were harnessed and lifted one at a time by crane into their new home, a 750,000-gallon outdoor habitat meant to simulate the Arctic environment.
The entire transport took 22 hours and concluded at about 4:30 a.m. Saturday.
The aquarium describes the effort to get the whales as “an international effort that has spanned five years, involved multiple government agencies and academic institutions, and a herculean logistical effort…This process took the teamwork of dozens of Aquarium staff members, including veterinarians and animal care specialists that monitored the whales throughout the journey.”
The CEO/President of Mystic Aquarium Steve Coan tells us the Canadian and American governments have been working together for five years to get these whales out of their crowded habitat at MarineLand.
“These are captive-born beluga whales,” Coan explained. “They were born at MarineLand so they cannot be released into the wild; I think that an important point. The immune systems of these animals are not developed as such that they could deal with the pathogens and challenges of a wild environment…They seem to be in great health and they seem to be adapting very well. The five are swimming together and playing together.”
Names/Size of Whales:
- Havana, a female weighing 924 pounds and 10’4” long
- Jetta, a female weighing 762 pounds and 10’3” long
- Kharabali, a female, weighing 818 pounds and 10’8” long
- Sahara, a female weighing 1,028 pounds and 11’4”
- Havok, weighing 1,192 pounds and 11’1”