A group of marine researchers say a young beluga whale is too attached to the Maritimes for his own good.
Nepi, who’s estimated to be about four years old, was spotted in Summerside, P.E.I., earlier this month, much to the delight of a local diving class.
But Robert Michaud, scientific director of the Quebec-based Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals, says it’s worrying to see a young beluga getting friendly with people so far from home.
The group first came across Nepi in June 2017, when they rescued him from a New Brunswick river and brought him to the St. Lawrence Estuary in Quebec – but the following summer, the adventurous mammal was spotted again in Nova Scotia.
Michaud says belugas shouldn’t become socialized with people because they can be injured or killed by boats, and asks that anyone who spots a beluga in the water keep their distance to avoid reinforcing their curiosity.
While most belugas live in the Arctic, their southernmost habitat is in the St. Lawrence Estuary: a critical habitat for belugas, which are protected under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.