Jump to content

Beluga whale visits Gloucester

Guest guest

Recommended Posts

Guest guest

Beluga whale visits harbor

By Jenni Glenn

Staff writer

Air temperatures well above freezing did not discourage a whale more commonly found in Arctic waters from swimming into the harbor yesterday.

A 9- to 10-foot beluga whale spent the morning swimming off Eastern Point. The animals, also known as white whales, usually don't make their way this far south, said Mason Weinrich, the executive director of the Whale Center of New England. He has seen only five or six in Cape Ann waters during his long career at the Harbor Loop center.

The young whale that visited Cape Ann yesterday likely is part of the southern-most beluga population, which lives in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada, Weinrich said. Although belugas are social animals and may form groups of hundreds, he said it is not unusual for a young beluga to travel this far south on its own.

The visiting whale's gray-brown coloring indicates it is less than 2 years old, Weinrich said. Belugas turn white as they grow and are identifiable because they have no dorsal fin -- the fin most other whale species have on their backs.

Male belugas can grow to be 16 feet long, and females can be up to 14 feet long, Weinrich said. Researchers weren't able to determine the sex of the whale seen yesterday.

Gloucester Times

Employees from Salem Mooring Services spotted the young whale while they were working on mooring buoys, Weinrich said. He said the beluga kept returning to that spot and appeared to be interested in either the noise the workers were making or the buoys.

Weinrich said the whale seemed to be healthy, but had obviously undergone some trauma in the past. The beluga had some scars that, at first glance, looked like they were caused by a fishing line entanglement, he said. The whale center staff wasn't able to examine the whale closely enough to determine how it was injured.

"This animal clearly has survived something," Weinrich said.

Some belugas from the Gulf of St. Lawrence absorb toxins into their tissue by eating prey contaminated by pollutants that flow up the St. Lawrence River from the Great Lakes region, Weinrich said. He said that problem has become less common in the last 15 years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...