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Friday, August 14, 2015

Beluga whale that visited Rhode Island spotted in Nova Scotia

At least one of the pod, maybe all three, travelled to Canada
From the Mystic Aquarium
Two of the pod of three from their visit to RI (Mystic Aquarium)

On Mother’s Day 2015, Mystic Aquarium received a lead after local fishermen spotted three beluga whales in Narragansett Bay. Mystic Aquarium officials have learned that at least one of the three whales has arrived safely back in Canadian waters.

“One of the three belugas that visited our response area this summer was spotted in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada on Tuesday,” reported Allison D. Tuttle, DVM, Diplomate ACZM and Vice President of Biological Programs. 

These whales were positively identified after Mystic Aquarium’s Researchers, under the direction of NOAA Fisheries, were able to collect both still images and video footage of the three marine mammals. Images were shared through a partnership with the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network.

Robert Michaud, scientific director of the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals and coordinator of the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network, was able to photo-identify one of the beluga whales as part of the threatened St. Lawrence population.

“It is a relief knowing that at least one is back in Canada after its travels,” added Dr. Tuttle. The hope is that all three continued to travel as a group, and that the others are there as well. 

The weeks of monitoring found the trio as far south as New Jersey back on May 31.

The St. Lawrence belugas have been in a slow population decline for the past decade and were believed to number only around 900 animals in 2013, down from more than 10,000 in the late 1800s. This is another one of the success stories of international partners working together for the conservation of species.

“We are proud to work closely with organizations around the world to study these animals and their behaviors in an effort to learn more ways to help conserve them,” added Tracy Romano, PhD, Chief Scientist and Vice President of Research at Mystic Aquarium, who led the efforts back in May and continues to be on the forefront of beluga whale research internationally. 

As conservation continues closer to home, guests are invited to learn more about beluga whales and our ongoing research by visiting Mystic Aquarium’s Arctic Coast exhibit.