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Shedd Aquarium Experts Went To Canada To Help Rescue A Lost Beluga Whale

By Mae Rice in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 16, 2017 8:10PM

Photo courtesy of the Whale Stewardship Project

Experts from Chicago's Shedd Aquarium flew to Canada and helped return a lost young Beluga whale to his herd on Thursday.

The healthy whale was found alone in the New Brunswick area earlier in June, hundreds of miles from his herd's typical summer stomping grounds.

Marine mammal health experts from Shedd were part of the 20-person team that transported the whale—first via a sling, then a truck, then an airplane, then a "pontoon raft"!—to St. Lawrence Estuary, where his herd awaited.

The Shedd Aquarium's Tim Binder called it "a bold plan" in a statement.

However, the Shedd and its collaborators—including the Vancouver Aquarium—deemed the plan necessary because Belugas are endangered in Canada. Their numbers have been thinned by pollution, underwater noise and other human effects.

Dr. Martin Haulena, head veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium and a member of the rescue team, further explained the significance of the rescue in a statement. "We were concerned about the animal’s welfare of course, but this effort is also a feasibility study to determine if rescuing individuals will help the population."

The team gave the rescued whale a satellite tag, to help determine the long-term effects of the rescue.

So far, the prodigal whale has been frolicking with three other young Beluga whales in his herd.

Below, you can see a close-up of his face during the rescue process. He's not a super photogenic whale, but then again, the slogan was never Save the Cute Whales Only.

IMG_1271_Whale Stewardship Project.JPG
Photo courtesy of the Whale Stewardship Project