Lone beluga whale is spotted swimming off the coast of Seattle, 1,500 miles from the nearest population in Alaska – and scientists have no idea why 

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  • Scientists are shocked by the discovery of a lone beluga whale off the coast of Seattle
  • The wayward creature is about 1,500 miles away from its closest population in Alaska
  • This is the first time a beluga has been documented in Puget Sound in more than 80 years.
  • Experts believe that he either wanted to travel or was held captive in a shipyard

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They are known to be extremely social animals that thrive in the cold waters of the Arctic.

So the discovery of a lone beluga whale off the coast of Seattle—about 1,500 miles from its closest population in Alaska—has stunned scientists.

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The ‘very rare’ appearance of the wayward creature is the first documented sighting of a beluga whale in an entrance to Puget Sound in more than 80 years.

The closest beluga whale population is in Cook Inlet, Alaska, about 1,450 miles away.

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Mystery: The discovery of a lone beluga whale off the coast of Seattle – about 1,500 miles from its closest population in Alaska – has stunned scientists (stock image)

The nearest beluga population is in Cook Inlet, Alaska, about 1,450 miles from Seattle.

The nearest beluga population is in Cook Inlet, Alaska, about 1,450 miles from Seattle.

How beluga whales are most at home in the waters of the Arctic Ocean

Belugas, also known as white whales, are not known for having a rounded forehead and no dorsal fin.

Marine mammals eat fish, crustaceans and insects.

Whales ranging in length from 13 feet to 20 feet are common in the coastal waters of the Arctic Ocean.

But when the sea freezes, they move south in large flocks.

The whale, whose scientific name is Delfinapterus leucus, has an average life span of 35 to 50 years in the wild, and weighs about a ton.

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Experts are puzzled as to how and why it ended up near Seattle, but the fact that it is floating close to three different shipyards has given rise to one theory.

Howard Garrett, co-founder of Orca Network, a non-profit organization that raises awareness about whales in Puget Sound, said: ‘I don’t understand the shipyard’s allure for the beluga.

They told live science: ‘I don’t know if it’s a clue, if it means it was taken captive at a shipyard somewhere at a busy port, but we have no documentation, of course, of where in North America it would be’ I do not know.’

Two years ago another beluga whale made headlines when it appeared off the coast of Norway with a Russian harness and camera attachment, prompting speculation that it may have been acting as a spy for Moscow.

It was spotted by fishermen in April 2019 and again puzzled experts as the beluga is rarely seen south of the High Arctic.

Norway’s domestic intelligence agency launched an investigation that believed the whales were ‘likely to be part of a Russian research programme’.

However, there is no suggestion that the Seattle Beluga has anything to do with the Kremlin.

secret agent?  Two years ago another beluga whale made headlines when it appeared off the coast of Norway with a Russian harness and camera attachment (pictured), prompting speculation that it was acting as a spy for Moscow. may have been.

secret agent? Two years ago another beluga whale made headlines when it appeared off the coast of Norway with a Russian harness and camera attachment (pictured), prompting speculation that it was acting as a spy for Moscow. may have been.

Garrett’s second thought is that it may just be a curious globetrotter.

‘Until we have some indication, my default theory is that this whale just decided to walk, explore,’ he said.

‘It wanted to travel. This is very unusual, but from time to time it happens in different ways. [beluga] population. So, it is not completely unprecedented, but certainly very rare.’

He said that the last time the beluga whale was seen in Puget Sound was in 1940.

There was also a report of a beluga in sound in 2010, but only one person said they had seen it and were not able to obtain photographic evidence.

One of the first reported sightings of this new beluga was on October 3, when it was observed swimming in Commenmentation Bay near Tacoma, about 30 miles (50 km) south of Seattle.

Jason Rogers of Bonnie Lake, Washington, saw whales and began filming.

Beluga whales are highly sociable and live, hunting and migrating together in pods, ranging from a few individuals to hundreds of whales (stock image)

Beluga whales are highly sociable and live, hunting and migrating together in pods, ranging from a few individuals to hundreds of whales (stock image)

Experts agree that it is in good health and say the fact that Puget Sound has lots of squid, crabs and small fish, which form a part of the beluga’s staple diet, is a good sign.

The area is also home to other whales, including humpback and minke species, so the beluga is not alone in that sense.

Belugas are white because this helps them to camouflage among the sea and ice of the Arctic, as is the case with other animals native to the polar region.

They are highly sociable and live, hunt and migrate together in pods, from a few individuals to hundreds of whales. Their bulbous forehead, called a ‘watermelon’, is capable of changing shape and is used for communication and echolocation.

Scientists are now hoping to obtain more images of the beluga in Seattle to compare with other known whales nearby in an effort to identify where it came from.

The local branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is leading this analysis, while other whale and animal groups are also monitoring the movements of the beluga.

In the UK, between September and December 2018, a beluga whale was seen living in the River Thames for several months.

Nicknamed, ‘Benny the Beluga’, he drew crowds on the riverbank hoping to catch a glimpse of himself, and regularly dined along the Kent section of the Thames.

The Port of London Authority said Benny almost certainly went home in January 2019.

Why do some species go through menopause?

Few animals have been known to experience menopause, with most species reproducing until they die.

with humans; Killer whales, killer whales, short-finned pilot whales, beluga whales and narwhals have developed this trait.

Typically, menopause begins when animals undergo hormonal changes that prevent them from being able to reproduce.

Researchers suggest this biological ‘off-switch’ is useful in species that spend most of their lives taking care of their…

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