As reported by Chrissy Metzger Barth, Mystic Aquarium’s Trainer of Cetaceans and Pinnipeds
Dec. 28, 2017-Jan. 2, 2018: Tyonek continues to do well with his bottle feeds. He is practicing his vocalizations; even making new ones. On my shift, I was tasked with using the hydrophone (a specially designed underwater microphone) to record Tyonek’s vocalizations. The length and time of the recordings varied in order to record vocalizations made while engaging in a variety of behaviors; for example, interacting with enrichment, diving or during a bottle feed. #DYK beluga whales do not have vocal chords. All the sounds made by Tyonek and any beluga are actually coming from the blow hole.
My final week with Tyonek also brought the great Seward weather I remember including continued snow. During my last shift, the great blustery rain- that Seward is known for- had arrived. Although the staff was not very excited about it, it did not appear to affect Tyonek at all with his very thick blubber layer he has been building.
Time goes by fast when you are caring for a beluga calf and I cannot believe my time with Tyonek has come to an end. I have learned a lot from him and cannot wait to be able to go back to Mystic Aquarium to share what I have learned with all of our guests. He is definitely defying the odds! Tyonek is truly inspiring, not only to all of us who have gotten the chance to care for him; but, hopefully to everyone that hears his story as well.
I am thankful for all of the amazing work that the Alaska SeaLife Center does and continues to do every day. I hope to one day visit again.