In June 2019, leading wildlife photographer and Olympus ambassador Tesni Ward photographed the epic journey of two beluga whales ’Little Grey and Little White’ as part of a sponsorship deal brokered by sponsorship agency Reg&Co. As the whales moved 6,000 miles from China to Iceland, they represented a world-first project which will see the creation of the first-ever whale sanctuary. Next month a photographic exhibition will open which documented the whales’ epic journey so far.
21 November 2019: Wildlife charity SEA LIFE TRUST and leading photography brand Olympus, will open a photographic exhibition next month at the Olympus-sponsored central London gallery the After Nyne Gallery. The exhibition captures one of the biggest developments in captive whale care in decades.
Running from the 11th till the 20th December, the exhibition will showcase the work of talented Olympus ambassador and leading British wildlife photographer Tesni Ward.
Ward, who travelled to both Shanghai and Iceland, followed the historic journey to relocate the previously performing whales from a water park in Shanghai, to the remote island of Heimaey in Iceland. The island is one of the Westman Islands, located off the southern coast of Iceland and home to the world’s first open water sanctuary created for beluga whales.
The whales who safely arrived after their 30+ hour epic journey by land, sea and air, are now in their temporary care pool, preparing for the next part of their move which will take place in the warmer/calmer months of spring 2020. The next part of the journey will be a mere 1430 meters and will complete their monumental journey to their new open-water bay.
The bay which measures 32,000 sqm, with a depth of up to 10m has been chosen to provide a more natural sub-Arctic environment and is full of natural flora and fauna for these amazing whales to call home.
Andy Bool, Head of SEA LIFE Trust, said: “This exhibition marks another important step in this world-first project. Tesni’s photography provides us with a long-lasting legacy which will help share the important story of Little Grey and Little White and the bigger picture that they represent. We hope her powerful pictures will highlight the complex nature of this world-first project, but also all the passion, commitment and many, many people that it took to make this journey, a reality.”
“We hope that Tesni’s photographic project tells this unique and emotional story so that others can experience the journey with them. We are thrilled that Little Grey and Little White are settling well into their new home and hope that the exhibition will continue to raise awareness of the fantastic work of the SEA LIFE Trust. Everyone is welcome to see the exhibition which will also feature a sculpture by Val Hunt made from plastic waste collected during the SEA LIFE Trust 24-Hour global beach clean which Olympus staff took part in” added Georgina Pavelin, Olympus Marketing Manager.
Tesni Ward concluded “It’s been a genuine privilege to join Little White & Little Grey on their groundbreaking journey to a new home. The sheer dedication, passion and hard work by the team at the SEA LIFE Trust sets a new precedent for captive cetaceans. I can only hope that the images I captured along the way help to raise further awareness and support of this project as we move forward.”
Created in partnership with the Whale & Dolphin Conservation (WDC), the SEA LIFE TRUST Beluga Whale Sanctuary is one of the biggest developments in captive whale and dolphin care and protection in decades and the first of its kind to be created for cetaceans.
Comprising a stunning natural sea inlet in Klettsvik Bay and a landside care facility and visitor centre, the creation of the Sanctuary was supported by a donation from Merlin Entertainments and the world’s largest chain of family aquariums, SEA LIFE. Global wildlife charity the SEA LIFE Trust is now responsible for running the Sanctuary and caring for the whales who call it home. Anyone who wishes to donate to help cover the costs of caring for the whales who call it home can do so by visiting www.sealifetrust.org
Visitors to Heimaey will be able to learn more about Little White and Little Grey and the sanctuary in a landside visitor centre and currently houses the connecting care pool which is the temporary home for Little Grey and Little White before their spring move. For more information about the SEA LIFE TRUST Beluga Whale Sanctuary, visit www.sealifetrust.org.