The Whale Sanctuary Project (WSP) has already opened part of their new anticipated whale centre in the Canadian town of Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia, which will be North America’s first seaside centre for retired whales from a life performing in public aquaria.

When finished, the 40-hectare centre will be at a bay open to the North Atlantic Ocean near Port Hilford. The new enclosures will keep belugas and orcas which will be moved from public aquaria and marine parks where they performed to the public. Sadly, after they move to their new home from 2023 onwards, they will still spend the rest of their life in captivity. But at least they will not be forced to perform anymore, and they will now be kept in more naturalized enclosures 300 times larger than the biggest captive whale tank in any marine park.

The centre will be open to the public, and it is expected visitors will still be able to watch the whales, but from viewing spots and without performances or shows—which is an improvement.

There are at least 2,000 whales and dolphins held in captivity worldwide, including more than 250 beluga whales and orcas. Hopefully, the opening of centres like this will not encourage more aquaria and amusement parks to capture or breed more dolphins or whales thinking they now have a place to retire them when they do no longer want them, or making them perform becomes too unpopular. 

With the passing of the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act 2019, it became an offense in Canada to own, have custody of or control a cetacean that is kept in captivity, breeding or impregnating a cetacean, or possessing or seeking to obtain reproductive materials of cetaceans. But allows those who already kept whales or dolphins before the act was passed to still keep them. Also, the above offenses do not apply to those who are conducting scientific research under a license issued by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of a province, or to those authorized to keep a cetacean in captivity in the best interests of the animals’ welfare —which seems to be the case of this new centre.

Remembering the opening ceremony of the new center’s operations site in November 2021, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Arthur LeBlanc said in Instagram: “We were there to celebrate this major milestone in our project and the next step in achieving our goal of creating the first seaside sanctuary for belugas and orcas in North America.”If you want to help cetaceans avoid spending their life in captivity, remember not to visit or support public aquaria or marine parks, or the travel and tourist companies that enable them.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.