A Maritime marine animal conservation group is warning people not to interact with beluga whales, as they report their first sighting of a “vagrant” whale.
A photo of the beluga was taken near Pointe-du-Chêne, N.B., in early April and shared with the Marine Animal Response Society.
“Typically, beluga whales reside in the St. Lawrence estuary or further north in the Arctic,” said Andrew Reid, a response coordinator with the society.
“We don’t have a resident population of beluga whales. However, the last few years, we’ve been getting either single animal or a couple animals that are travelling together.”
Reid says the animal isn’t necessarily in distress, but that there “is often a risk of human interaction.”
“They’re an extremely curious animal, so they like interacting with other animals and people,” he said. “That leads them to be less fearful of people and boats and that often leads them to being hit.”
Reid says there are a handful of sightings in the area each year, and the society doesn’t typically interfere. But in some cases, rescuers do have to step in.
Last June, a beluga lost its way in a northern New Brunswick river and had to be rescued by land, air and sea before being reunited with its pod.
The society is asking the public to keep an eye out for the most recent beluga visitor to the region and is asking people to stay away.
Sightings can be reported to them via the toll-free line at 1-866-567-6277.