Tuesday, March 3rd 2020, 12:14 pm - The whales will move into their new home before the end of 2021.
The enthusiasm couldn't have been stronger as whale expert Charles Vinnick announced Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia will be the official home base to the first whale sanctuary in North America, with whales expected in the water just off the coast of Port Hilford before the end of 2021.
"It's very exciting news," he said.
"It's huge [for] this area. We're a small rural area and this will really boost our tourism. I could see it being a good help to our economy."
Nets will be brought in to encircle an area of around 100 acres in the bay.
The whales will have free reign throughout that area, something Whale Sanctuary Project president Lori Marino thinks will be highly beneficial to their quality of life.
"They are going to be able, for the first time in their life, to swim in a straight line for many, many, many body lengths. They probably won't even know they can do that until they finally discover that they do have the space," she said.
Coming soon! File photo: Getty Images.
"We have a lot of space. We have depth. We have the right environment for them. We're well protected to the South West."
Storms will hit the area, and while the whales will have limited experience with them due to their previous captive environments, Vinnick says they are biologically adapted to handle the weather.
"There are ways we will create shelter for them so if it's a terrible storm, they'll be able to handle it. But this bay gives us all of that flexibility."
Amy Simon is a local resident who helped lobby for the sanctuary and is still on a high from the announcement.
"It was absolutely surreal, dreams do come true," she said.
There are more than 300 beluga whales in captivity around the world, with the sanctuary expected to house between five and eight.
Watch the video above to learn more about the Whale Sanctuary Project.