Vestmannaeyjar, a small group of islands off the south coast of Iceland, are best known for two volcanic eruptions, Eldfell and Surtsey, and for being the place where the orca Keiko, featured in the 1993 film “Free Willy”, relearned how to live in the wild. Vestmannaeyjar is also where the conservation charity Sea Life Trust, in partnership with Whale and Dolphin Conservation and Merlin Entertainments, has created an open water sanctuary at Klettsvik Bay for two beluga whales, nicknamed Little White and Little Grey, who formerly lived in captivity.

To create the sanctuary, Sea Life Trust enclosed a large part of the beautiful Klettsvik Bay using netting, extending from the surface down to the seabed. The netting allows fish and crabs to enter, but ensures the beluga whales remain in the sanctuary. Apart from a landing dock, made up of three four-metre wide floating concrete pontoons, the sanctuary also includes a specially designed care pool area and is protected by the most advanced floating wave attenuator available. The floating breakwater is vital as the bay can experience major storms. Vestmannaeyjar has recorded the highest wind speed ever in Iceland – 61 metres per second.

The floating dock at the sanctuary was opened in 2020. It was designed and manufactured by SF Marina in Sweden and distributed locally under licence by Króli ehf., based in Garðabæ, Iceland.

  • Open water refuge for beluga whales

  • 32,000 square-metre sea pen

  • Environmentally friendly pontoons

Watch the video with the release of the Beluga whales back into the wild