The excitement couldn’t have been stronger when whale expert Charles Vinnick announced that Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia will be the official home base of North America’s first whale sanctuary, with whales expected in the water just off Port Hilford before the end of 2021.
“This is very exciting news,” he said.
“It is enormous [for] this zone. We are a small rural area and this will really boost our tourism. I could see it was a good help for our economy.”
Nets will be brought in to encircle an area of approximately 100 acres in the bay.
The whales will have free rein throughout this area, which Whale Sanctuary Project President Lori Marino believes will greatly benefit their quality of life.
“They’re going to be able, for the first time in their lives, to swim in a straight line for many, many body lengths. They probably won’t even know they can do it until they finally find out they have space,” she says.
Coming soon! File photo: Getty Images.
“We have plenty of space. We have depth. We have the right environment for them. We are well protected in the southwest.”
Storms will hit the area, and although the whales have limited experience with them due to their previous captive environments, Vinnick says they are biologically adapted to handle the weather.
“There are ways to create shelter for them, so if it’s a terrible storm, they can handle it. But this bay gives us all that flexibility.”
Amy Simon is a local resident who helped lobby for the sanctuary and has been on top ever since the announcement.
“It was absolutely surreal, dreams come true,” she said.
There are more than 300 beluga whales in captivity around the world, and the sanctuary is expected to house between five and eight.
Watch the video above to learn more about the Whale Sanctuary Project.