A young beluga whale that made headlines in the Maritimes last year has been spotted and appears to be in good health.
The Marine Animal Response Society (MARS) wrote on Facebook that the beluga has been observed with at least one other beluga off Ingonish, N.S.
The male whale was rescued last June from the Nepisiquit River in northern New Brunswick where it had become trapped.
It was transported to Quebec, outfitted with a satellite tracking device and released near Cacouna in the St. Lawrence Estuary. The goal, at the time, was to see if the whale could reintegrate with the belugas there.
And it appears it has.
“We are very happy that the animal has survived and appears to be in good health!” MARS wrote on Facebook.
According to a news release from MARS, the beluga is in the company of another unidentified male beluga.
“According to the images that have been transmitted to us, the Nepisiguit beluga appears to be in good health. He appears vigorous and is swimming well,” said veterinarian specialist Dr. Stéphane Lair of the Université de Montréal’s faculty of veterinary medicine, in a news release.
Researchers are concerned, however, about the welfare of the two belugas because of the degree of interaction they’ve had with humans.
The pair of whales was assessed and sampled by MARS and the Whale Stewardship Project. According to MARS, they are authorized to approach the animals and collect samples through permits from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The society reminds the public that the whales are protected by federal law and people should keep at least 100 metres away from them.
Researchers now plan to gather more information about the “vagrant” whales and try to understand why the Nepisiquit River beluga travelled so far away from the St. Lawrence Estuary where it was released last year.