THEY would have to rank as the world's most unusual passengers.
Two beluga whales, Little Grey and Little White, have been flown 6,000 miles from China to Iceland to the world's first open water sanctuary for beluga whales.
The relocation of the captive whales heralds one of the biggest developments in captive whale and dolphin care and protection in decades
According to Cathy Williamson, Whale and Dolphin Conservation's End Captivity Programme Policy Manager thesanctuary represents a pathway to the end of the keeping of whales and dolphins confined for entertainment.
The sheltered bay on Heimaey, one of the Westman Islands, located off the southern coast of Iceland, will be the world's first open water sanctuary for beluga whales in what is a ground-breaking global marine welfare project.
The bay, which measures approximately 32,000 square metres with a depth of up to 10 metres, has been chosen to provide a more natural sub-Arctic environment and wilder habitat for the whales to call home.
The two belugas were transported in custom-made slings designed to their exact physical requirements, and were then placed in tailored containers.
They were monitored by their care teams to ensure they remained safe and comfortable throughout the nearly 12-hour flight.
A team of global veterinary experts with experience in transporting marine mammals was also on board to guarantee their welfare.
The 747-400ERF freighter plane was welcomed onto the tarmac with a ceremonial water salute from two fire trucks firing a water arc over the plane, in celebration of Iceland's newest residents' safe arrival.
For more information, click here.