Cargolux 747 relocates live belugas from China to Iceland

A Cargolux-operated 747 freighter carrying two live beluga whales landed at Iceland’s Reykjavik Keflavik Airport (KEF) on Wednesday after a 6,000-mile flight that began on the other side of the world in China.

Ahead of the flight, the belugas were loaded into custom-fit slings within specially-designed containers and were trucked from Changfeng Ocean World to Shanghai Pudong (PVG). Upon arrival at the airport, they were loaded onto the Cargolux jumbo. Aboard the freighter, the pair was accompanied by a care team, a Cargolux engineer and a team of veterinary experts experienced in marine mammal transportation to monitor the whales throughout the 12-hour flight.

After touching down in Iceland, the duo began the final leg of its long journey to the world’s first open water beluga whale sanctuary. Before being released into the open waters, the whales will spend at least 40 days resting in a special care pool for assessment. After their rest period is up, the belugas will be trucked and ferried the rest of the way to the sub-Arctic bay off an island near Iceland’s southern coast. As of now, the two whales dubbed Little Grey and Little White are in good health after their trans-oceanic journey.

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,” Andy Bool, Head of SEA LIFE Trust, said in a press release. SEA LIFE Trust owns and operates the beluga sanctuary, and funded the whales’ journey.

The flight was originally scheduled for April, but it was pushed off to June because of severe weather conditions.

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