The monumental task of moving whales across borders

The complex—and controversial—transfer of five belugas from Canada to the U.S. again raises the debate of whether whales should be kept in captivity at all.

A crane lifts Kharabali, a beluga whale, out of a pool at Marineland. In a complex, cross-border operation, she and four other belugas were transported from the Ontario aquatic park to Mystic Aquarium, in Connecticut.

A dusty gray C-130 rolled to a stop just as the sun was going down over the tarmac of the Air National Guard Station at the Groton-New London Airport in Connecticut on Friday. The plane wasn’t carrying its usual haul of utility helicopters or jeeps. Instead, when the rear cargo door yawned opened, it was three beluga whales from Marineland, an aquatic park in Ontario, Canada, that were sitting aboard, in special water-filled transport containers.

Kharabali, Havana and Jetta, three females, were loaded onto flatbed trucks and driven seven miles east on I-95 to Mystic Aquarium in southeast Connecticut. There, a crane gently lowered them, one by one, into the medical pool, a separate but connected body of water within the

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