A young beluga Cacouna is heading to explore the Maritimes

Un jeune béluga de Cacouna s'entête à explorer les Maritimes

Photo: Levon Drover / GREMM via Associated Press
Nepi the beluga whale

A group of researchers in marine sciences considers that a young beluga whale is too attached to the Marine for his own good.

For Nepi, of which it is estimated the age at about four years, was sighted on the coast of Summerside, Île-du-Prince-Édouard, at the beginning of the month of December, much to the delight of the participants in a scuba diving course.

“We heard a whale or what we thought was something blew, and then this whale appeared,” recalls Kimball Johnston, an instructor of the program of commercial diving Holland College.

The group, which included 11 students, believed that the whale was moving away to maintain a distance with the divers, but Nepi has instead spent several hours to swim near them.

“It has started to make the turn, and seemed rather curious. He flew down with our students and approximated more and more to the point where he was right next to them and they could see it very clearly, ” he told.

Kimball Johnston, who has been diving since more than 20 years, says that he has never seen a beluga whale, also near the island.

If the students were very enthusiastic about being close to a beluga whale so closely, the instructor ensures that they have not chased the whale, nor attempted to withhold from them.

“We made our case and he was hers, he described. We care for what we had to do and he continued to intrude. “

Robert Michaud, the scientific director of the Group for research and education on marine mammals (GREMM) based in Tadoussac, find it troubling to see a young beluga whale as friendly with humans while he is away from his home. And especially considering that Nepi is a repeat offender in the matter.

The team of Robert Michaud made the acquaintance of a young beluga whale in June 2017. After receiving a call about a whale stuck in the mouth of the river Nepisiguit, Bathurst, New Brunswick, the group has coordinated its rescue in order to bring Nepi as far as the waters of the St. Lawrence river near Cacouna.

The expert of marine mammals, specifies that this rescue was an experience.

“The population of the St. Lawrence beluga population is declining, they are endangered, so we wondered if rescuing an animal can help to grow the population,” he says. As it was not too far from the house, it was doable, so we tried it. “

A temperament adventurer

The research group marine has installed a tracking device on Nepi, in order to track its movements, but the great prankster has managed to get rid of at the end of twenty days.

A year after being passed out in the nature, a wildlife photographer spotted him at Ingonish, Nova Scotia, and the researchers were able to identify it from photographs.

Robert Michaud admits to being baffled by the reappearance of the beluga at l’île-du-Prince-Édouard. He does not understand why Nepi appears to be both attracted to the Maritimes.

“This young beluga whale would be much better surrounded by his fellows in the region of the St. Lawrence. That is why we reduced it to Cacouna for the first time, he argues. The question is, why is it returned ? Is it is his temperament to be an adventurer ? “

According to Mr. Michaud, when the beluga whales come too close to boats and people, it can become tragic for a species in decline.

The GREMM has heard of many cases of belugas being struck by a boat or propellers and which are dead. This is why it is risky to leave the whales to approach and appease.

Although the majority of belugas live in the Arctic, their habitat, the more to the south is located in the St. Lawrence estuary, a habitat critical to the survival of the species, which is protected under the Act, the species at risk in Canada.

In 2012, the estuary of the St. Lawrence were approximately 900 beluga whales, but it is believed that there could be up to 10 000 individuals before 1885.

Robert Michaud application to any person who notices a beluga whale further south than the estuary to inform the GREMM so that it can attempt to identify it. Despite her concerns, expert in the face of the desires of the great traveller of Nepi, it is hoped that the beluga finally returned home safe and sound.

“They are browsers, extraordinary, they have the best radar submarine as you can imagine, says the specialist. L’île-du-Prince-Édouard is a little closer to the St. Lawrence in Nova Scotia, so there is some what to keep hope. I cross my fingers for him. “

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