The Whale Sanctuary Project in looking to provide a natural habitat to captive dolphins and whales taking them away from marinas where they are being treated as entertainment objects by being put on display. For this purpose, the non-profit is looking for sites around Nova Scotia alongside other favourable locations along the North American coastline.
According to Lori Marino, director of the non-profit organization, they are looking for a location that is equal to 40 large sport fields so as to provide enough room to the whales and dolphins to move around. Marinas provide for only a limited space and this is something that the Whale Sanctuary Project isn’t too happy about.
The goal of the Project through the massive site is to house the dolphins and whales in a natural habitat protected by nets so that they can live their rest of the lives without being display animals and are freed from the impositions of people who may be looking for a ride around the marina on their backs.
Marino said that these are wild creatures and not objects of human entertainment and this is what they intend to teach people by freeing them and putting them in natural habitats. Visitors will be allowed in these areas, but they will be able to view them from a distance and won’t be allowed near them.
While the information about Nova Scotia as being one of the places being scouted was revealed, the Whale Sanctuary Project has refrained from revealing the entire list of sites that are being scouted; however, Marino said that the province’s coast is among several North American coastlines, including areas off Maine and British Columbia, where there is potential habitat.
According to the plans, the Project is looking to build up a habitat for a cost of around $15 million and it would include a visitor centre and staff who would ensure the five to eight whales, likely belugas and orcas, are fed and cared for.
“It would be a place that people could go and see these animals, perhaps for the first time, in their own habitat and also learn about them authentically,” Marino said.
One of the primary reasons why dolphins and whales freed from captivity are not to be released in the wild is that they are not equipped with the skills to tackle the challenges of natural environment. By keeping them in netted natural waters enables the Project to give the whales and dolphins a natural habitat, but without its hardships.
Marino added that they are consulting federal Fisheries Department, first nations and other interested community groups about the regulatory approvals needed for use of coastlines as a netted-off sanctuary and the final decision about the site will be made sometime in the middle of 2017.