Scientists lose contact with rescued beluga

CACOUNA, Que. — Scientists are looking for signs of a young whale that was flown from a New Brunswick river to the waters off Quebec after losing contact with the whale a few days ago.

The beluga, which is about two metres long, was captured in the Nepisiquit River last month — where it was alone — and transported to Quebec where it was released near Cacouna in the St. Lawrence Estuary.

The Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals said it hasn’t received satellite transmissions from the whale, which was outfitted with a tracking device so scientists could monitor its movements, since last Tuesday.

“Hoping for a temporary problem, we waited two more days before having to accept the reality,” the Quebec City-based group said in a statement Friday. “We lost contact with the beluga,”

Scientists are reserving conclusions about what happened to the beluga, but the animal’s death is among the explanations being considered, the group said. The group said officials are holding out hope that the beluga is still alive and its tracking device has been lost or broken.

“Nothing is being played yet,” Robert Michaud, scientific director of the group, said. “If the animal is still alive but its beacon has fallen, it will have left a scar under its dorsal crest which should allow us to recognize it easily.”

“We will keep our eyes wide open,” he said.

Officials said the whale’s prognosis was “reserved” at the time of its release on June 15, but the young beluga had surpassed expectations by swimming more than 570 kilometres into the estuary, where researchers hoped it would make contact with other members of its species.

“The story of the beluga does not stop with the end of the tag,” the group said. ”Many developments can still occur, and the rescue operation has already tested hypotheses and advanced science.”

The population of belugas in the St. Lawrence has been declining since the early 2000s and it’s believed there are fewer than 900 of them still in existence.

They were placed on the endangered species list last fall.

Just Posted

Red Deer man says more cardiac care needed here

Ryan Gillies spent several extra days in hospital waiting to get a stent in Edmonton

Red Deer gets ready for CFR 45

A $20 to $25-million annual injection to the local economy

Former Red Deer teacher going to trial on child porn charges

Charges were laid in January 2017 after a woman came forward

Red Deer agency reports more than 1,000 lives saved with naloxone

Turning Point distributes 5,855 naloxone kits

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month