The pieces are put together for a whale sanctuary project in Guysborough County.
The Whale Sanctuary Project has applied to the province for a permit to use a body of water and Crown land adjacent to Port Hilford on the east coast, and is renovating a house in nearby Sherbrooke to make it both an exploitation and interpretation center open to the public.
“We’ve done a lot of work on the environmental scans, the design, the netting engineering thinking and we’re right in the middle of the whole licensing process,” said Lori Marine, President of the Whale Sanctuary Project.
The project would involve the clearing of 40 hectares of Port Hilford between Barahois Island and Rocky Point in a semi-circular installation towards the end of the bay. There would also be a land-based facility for feeding the whales, full-time veterinary staff for their care and feeding, and maintenance staff.
Marino said they had so far raised “a few million” for the estimated construction cost of $ 15 million and intended to launch a fundraising campaign soon that will also raise money for the expenses of the building. planned annual operations of $ 2 million.
“Our feeling is that we will do it when we have the money to do it and not before,” said Marino.
“We want to make sure we can build that and once we get the first whales we can take care of them for the rest of their lives.”
The goal is to complete construction and begin accepting beluga whales removed from aquariums in North America by the end of next year. Beluga whales can live 40 to 50 years, but the nature of the facility is that most whales accepted would likely be older already.
The promotional material on the group’s website also includes plenty of pictures and discussions about the orcas that have been removed from the theme parks.
“It depends on the availability (of orcas) as well as what the local community thinks about it,” Marino said of the possibility of having orcas on the site.
“Our plan from the start has been to start with the belugas and could well be all the belugas. “
If the community accepts their presence and the orcas become available, Marino said they should be kept in a separate enclosure from the beluga whales.
While commercial fishermen previously feared that the site would interfere with their ability to fish in the bay, a member of this community who did not want to appear in the newspaper confirmed that he had reached a compromise with the developers and that he was now accompanying the project.
“I would say the majority of the community is supportive of the project – it’s on everyone’s lips right now,” said James Harpell, councilor representing Port Hilford for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s.
“There have been a few who disagree because of the freight transport for the whales themselves, but I imagine as we go along we can get over that.”