As reported by Chrissy Metzger Barth, Mystic Aquarium’s Trainer of Cetaceans and Pinnipeds
December 21-27: Settling back into life in Alaska, my second week caring for Tyonek has been like a dream! I have almost mastered filleting fish and have gotten my formula making down to 30 minutes. This week we weighed Tyonek and he is up to 105.4kg (232lbs). Belugas always look pretty chunky but he is building quite the impressive blubber layer. Currently he is drinking 4,700mL of formula a day!
When Tyonek is not chowing down on his formula, he spends a lot of time interacting with his enrichment. He interacts with a piece of fire hose mostly. Being very durable, the fire hose is safe for him as he pushes it around on his melon and rubs against it. This and other enrichment items are important means to provide a simulation of typical beluga rubbing behavior.
Tyonek has also been experimenting more with his melon. I have been able to see him manipulate it more especially when he is making different vocalizations – they don’t call belugas the canaries of the sea for nothing! He continues to interact with all of his caretakers outside of bottle feeds and will stay for long periods of time to receive tactile along his body. This week he even presented his fluke for a rub down as well.
I spent a very merry Christmas with Tyonek! Since I have been here the weather has been very clear, but it began to snow very large snowflakes on Christmas Eve into Christmas. Tyonek spent some of the night catching the snow in his mouth (not going to lie, I may have caught some snowflakes as well!) He even saw his first Alaskan snowman. It is hard being away from my husband and family over the holidays, but getting to spend them with a beluga calf is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I will never, ever forget it!
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