Caring for the white whales

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The two belugas (white whales) rescued from an aquarium in Ukraine are ‘adapting perfectly’ to their new home in the Oceanogràfic sea life centre in Valencia city.

“After a complicated transfer, our team is continuing to work to give them a peaceful and managed environment to live in,” said an Oceanogràfic spokesperson.

The mammals, a male named Plombir, aged 15, and a female called Miranda, 14, arrived two weeks ago after a long voyage from the Neno Dolphinarium in Kharkiv.

Kharkiv has been devastated by the war and endures frequent bombings less than a kilometre from the aquarium.

‘Exhaustive’ checks carried out by the vets at the centre have found that the new belugas are in good health.

They were suffering from slight dehydration when they arrived on June 19 but the vets have confirmed that they do not have any contagious diseases.

The spokesperson said Miranda and Plombir have now started to interact with the resident white whales, Yulka y Kylu as part of their adaptation process.

The team hopes that the four whales will be able to live together in the near future.

The complex transfer operation from Ukraine took months of preparation and started with a 12-hour road journey to Odessa, where their Ukrainian carers met teams from the Oceanogràfìc and specialists in marine mammals from Georgia aquarium and Seaworld in the USA, who performed veterinary checks.

They continued to Chisináu airport in Moldavia, where a specially booked plane took them to Valencia on a five-hour flight.

The beluga, or white whale, is one of the smallest species of whale.

Their distinctive colour and prominent foreheads make them easily identifiable, according to National Geographic.

Unlike most other whales, the beluga has a very flexible neck that enables it to nod and turn its head in all directions, they note.

Belugas generally live together in small pods – they are social animals and vocal communicators using a diversified language of clicks, whistles, and clangs.

Belugas can also copy a variety of other sounds.

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