Baby beluga carcasses becoming a concern

Baby beluga carcasses becoming a concern

Main pic – Beluga whale in Canadian river. Photo credit: Ansgar Walk

Quebec City (Quebec) 8 October 2014 – There appears to be a surge of baby beluga whales being washed up on the shores of the St Lawrence River up towards the Gaspé Peninsula.

The latest case was a baby, which was found near Saint-André-de Kamouraska, dead and floating on the riverbank.

According to a number of scientists there seems to be a growing number of carcasses showing up over the last five years and although in the past most have been adult specimens, in the last five years, 60% have been newborns.

So far this year there have been 10 baby belugas found dead and it’s causing some people to question, why there has been such a significant increase in recent years? The worst year was 2012.

Four possibilities of the causes have been mentioned by the specialists involved; a slight increase in the temperature of the water, a thinner covering of ice in the winter, a stronger presence of predators and last but not least an increase in the number of boats using the waterway.

The construction of a new tanker port in Cacouna has been suspended temporarily in order to verify if the work is not having an effect on the beluga population in the area.

Biologists and scientists are analyzing the remains by doing autopsies to try and determine if there is a specific cause or if each case is different.

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