Nova Scotia could become a retirement home for whales

Nathan Coleman
Nova Scotia could become a retirement home for whales

It's a whale of an idea:

Take belugas that have lived in captivity and release them into a natural habitat where they can spend their remaining days.

It's called the "whale sanctuary project" and organizers have zeroed in on Nova Scotia as a perfect location for whales to retire.

"They are very much cold water animals," says Charles Vinick, executive director of the project.

In the wild, they're used to dealing with ice and temperature variations.

Vinick says the animals they focus on have come from captivity and don't have the survival skills to make it in the wild, so creating a sanctuary is the next best thing.

The $20 million plan would use nets to create a 40-hectare enclosure in an area known as "The Gates".

There are two potential sites, Sherbrooke and Sheet Harbour, where surrounding islands could act as natural barriers.

While some residents support the idea, critics worry about the amount of ice that migrates into the area in the winter could be problematic for the whales. They also could come into contact with the boats that travel through the area.

Vinick's organization now has to apply to the province. If approved, the belugas could be swimming in Nova Scotia by 2021.

Residents who are interested in learning more can visit whalesanctuaryproject.org.