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Researchers plan to relocate the whale to the Cacouna region in the St Lawrence River.

Ground breaking whale rescue in New Brunswick

Hailey Montgomery
Digital Reporter

Friday, June 16, 2017, 10:45 AM - Marine biologists worked Thursday to transport a lone whale that has been stranded for at least ten days in a New Brunswick river.

Rescue efforts began on Thursday morning at around 9 a.m. to move the whale from the Nepisiguit River to the St. Lawrence in Quebec. The operation was successful, and the whale was flown to Rivière-du-Loup, Que., then driven 50 km to the St. Lawrence, where it was released into open water, according to the CBC.

On June 2, the Marine Animal Response Society (MARS) in Nova Scotia said they had received reports of a beluga swimming alone in the Nepisiguit River in eastern New Brunswick. At that point it was believed that the whale had already been in the river for a few days. The organization is currently carrying out the rescue. 

The rescue process required a hoop, net, stretcher, and inflatable mattress to capture, transport and release the animal into the St. Lawrence estuary, according to the Post. 

While it is not unusual for the whales to travel a short distance into the river from the St. Lawrence estuary, they do not usually linger for extended periods of time.

According to MARS, beluga whales can survive in fresh water for a short period of time, but eventually need to go back to the ocean.

Belugas are social animals, and typically migrate and hunt in groups. In the summer, roughly 150,000 belugas live in Canadian waters. 

The World Wildlife Fund has deemed the beluga whale as a globally near-threatened species, and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has assessed the St. Lawrence estuary belugas as threatened.


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