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Another Beluga At Mystic Aquarium Is Gravely Ill

Beluga whale in aquarium
Barry Williams
Getty Images
A Beluga Whale swims at the Cold Water Quest Exhibit at The Georgia Aquarium.

A young beluga whale is experiencing health issues at Mystic Aquarium. She doesn’t have a name yet and is estimated to be 6 years old, considered a juvenile. But this whale has already had the journey of a lifetime.

She and four other young belugas are new to Connecticut. They were transported in May 2021 from Marineland, an overcrowded facility in Ontario, Canada. Aquarium officials said the animals wouldn’t be suitable for release into the ocean because they were born in captivity.

The whales had been adjusting well to their new home, when the one male in the group started showing signs of a preexisting condition and gastric ulcers, according to the Aquarium. He died on August 5th. Now, this sick female beluga appears to have a low white blood cell count, and is showing signs of gastrointestinal problems..

Daniel Pesquera, Interim Director of Public Relations for Mystic Aquarium, said he’s worried about the progression of her illness, and “very recently certain health complications have risen to the level of a more grave concern.”

It took years for Mystic Aquarium to get approval to acquire the whales, and has - faced lots of pushback about the move from animal rights groups.

Stephen Hernick, a senior attorney with Friends of Animals, led a legal case opposing the move.

Hernick questioned whether Mystic Aquarium has been transparent. “Two and half weeks ago when one of the belugas died, Mystic assured the public that the other belugas were doing fine. But now, Mystic said that [this whale] had become gravely ill in recent weeks,” Hernick said. He asked how those statements could both be true.

Still, Daniel Pesquera remains optimistic. He said Mystic Aquarium is “hoping that through a lot of hard work and collaborations with other veterinarians and from experts that we can find a solution that will turn it around for her.”

This whale is a member of a population of Belugas considered an endangered species.

Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. She loves hearing what you thought of her stories or story ideas you have so please email her at aoshinskie@ctpublic.org.
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