Young Bristol Bay Beluga Whale Rescued by SeaLife Center
The young male Beluga Whale that was found near the Diamond O cannery in Naknek after a storm has found a new home at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward.
The whale calf, estimated to be two to three days old when it was rescued Monday, refused to be coaxed back out into open waters.It was all alone with no other Belugas seen in the vicinity.
After receiving approval from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a rescue operation by the SeaLife Center was mounted and the five foot long, 110 pound whale was flown to Seward from Naknek on Grant Aviation. The plane was reconfigured to accomodate the cetacean.
The occcasion marked the first time that a Beluga Whale has ever been brought to the center, although they have tanks large enough to house the as-yet unnamed whale. The calf will later likely be moved to another location in the lower 48 when it grows larger. It will go to one of six facilities in the U.S. that have other Beluga Whales. This because federal regulations do not allow a Beluga Whale to be kept without a companion.
Right now, the whale will not be available for viewing by the general public. The center says that after the whale is stablized it may be moved to a larger tank for general viewing.
The very young age of the calf may give rise to complications, calves generally stay with their mother for two years feeding. But, it seems to be eating fine, is swimming on its own and breathing well. All of these factors increase its chances of survival.
Experienced staff from other U.S. aquariums have arrived and more are coming to assist in giving the young Beluga the 24 hour care that it requires.