MYSTIC, Conn. (WPRI) — At least one of the beluga whales that was spotted in Rhode Island earlier this year has returned home to Canada, Mystic Aquarium announced Thursday.
Three whales, which were first spotted in Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island on May 10, showed up almost two weeks later in Manhasset Bay, in the suburbs of New York City.
Now one of those whales is 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, Vice President of Biological Programs.
Researchers, under the direction of NOAA Fisheries, were able to obtain photos and video of the trio, which were then shared through a partnership with the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network, Mystic said.
Robert Michaud, coordinator of the network, identified the whale as being part of the threatened St. Lawrence population, according to the aquarium.
According to Mystic, the St. Lawrence belugas “have been in 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.”
“It is a relief knowing that at least one is back in Canada after its travels,” added Dr. Tuttle.
Researchers said the hope is that all three whales continued to to travel as a group, and that the others made it to Nova Scotia as well.
Back in May, the whales were spotted as far south as New Jersey.
“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,” said Tracy Romano, PhD, Chief Scientist and Vice President of Research at Mystic Aquarium.
Romano was responsible for leading the local research efforts back in May.