For the first time since orca, and Free Willy star, Keiko lived there, the Westman Islands are now welcoming new whales into their folds. MBL reports.
Iceland’s Environmental Agency has given the town of Westman Islands permission to transport two living white whales (Beluga whales) from Shanghai to the islands. The agency had previously denied this proposal, although they have now changed their minds after being presented with new papers.
“We are extremely happy about the no turning into a yes. Now we’re one step closer and the next step is to get an export license from China,” Westman Islands mayor, Elliði Vignisson told MBL. He believes that more whales might follow suit at a future date.
If everything goes according to plan, construction on a special pool for the whales will begin this winter, as well as a marine pen in Klettsvík. This will become a part of a new marine zoo, allowing islanders to receive the whales during the summer of 2019.
The entire operation is a joint venture between the Westman Islands and the European company Merlin, which runs multiple amusement parks in Europe and Asia. Seeing as the whales in Shanghai needed more proper accommodations, the Westman Islands proved to be the most suitable choice, due partly to their experience with Keiko.