Washington’s San Juan Islands Could Soon Become A Retirement Home For Rescued Orcas
If you have been paying attention to the news at all in the past year, you have seen governments and organizations taking steps to ensure that whales are no longer in captivity. Most recently, Canada passed the ‘Free Willy Bill’ and it is no longer legal to hold dolphins or whales captive to entertain others. For animals that have already been performing in SeaWorld and other venues their entire lives, those changes are too little, too late. Fortunately, there are options and they include the possibility of building a $15 million Whale Sanctuary Project in Washington San Juan Island. According to the Seattle Times, Orcas will be able to thrive in the area.
When the retirement home for whales is created, those sea creatures could live out their lives in a natural ocean habitat while at the same time, receiving protection and care that they need due to their long time in captivity. They will be living in tanks, they will be swimming around in a 60-100 acre cove. Veterinarians could provide any emergency care that was necessary, some rehabilitative services and food.
Once the Whale Sanctuary Project gets underway, 6-8 orcas will be at the facility. It is expected that the first would arrive in late 2020 or early 2021. The only thing standing in the way was getting the permits needed to build the facility and of course, to come up with the millions of dollars necessary to fund the project. There would be a $15 million estimated construction cost and the veterinary staff would require $2 million annually.
The price may seem high but it is not without precedent. A beluga sanctuary was opened in Iceland in June and now has its first residents. Little Gray and Little White are the two whales that were rescued from a park in China, similar to SeaWorld.
Once The Whale Sanctuary Project is built, a similar sanctuary may be built for beluga whales. The nonprofit organization held some public meetings around Washington to get the support needed for those projects.