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|Mystic Aquarium Scientists Tracking Fall River Beluga Whale|
Beluga Behavior Experts Seek Reasons for Taunton River Sightings
MYSTIC, Conn. – Researchers from Mystic Aquarium, the only aquarium in the Northeastern U.S. with beluga whales on-site for study and exhibition, are in Fall River, Mass., at the Taunton River today to determine what has brought a young beluga so far from its usual habitat.
The urgent effort is being led in Fall River by Dr. Tracy Romano, Executive Vice President of Research and Zoological Operations at Mystic Aquarium. Dr. Paul Anderson of Mystic Aquarium’s Research Center is also on the team to track the whale’s movements and gather data for study.
“We are intimately involved in beluga research with our animals at Mystic Aquarium, and travel to the Arctic every year to study them in their natural habitat,” said Dr. Romano. “This unusual sighting in our own back yard is anomalous behavior for a beluga and we would like to find out why.”
Mystic Aquarium scientists will be updating the public, the scientific community and the media continually via Twitter and other social media (#beluga), and will release a progress report at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 26.
The young, white-colored marine mammal has been spotted in the Taunton River several times over the past week. Normally, belugas keep to colder waters where they live in pods and hunt native food supplies. Mystic Scientists spend six weeks every summer at Cunningham Inlet in Nunavut, Canada and in Point Lay and Bristol Bay, Alaska, studying the behavioral ecology of the wild beluga population there. The changing environment’s effect on belugas and their health is a major concern affecting endangered beluga populations worldwide.
Researchers from Mystic are North America’s most experienced at working with and studying the health of beluga whales. The Aquarium has three belugas in residence.
Mystic Aquarium conducts research that contributes to the protection and conservation of our oceans. Ground-breaking research includes developing non-invasive technologies as alternatives to blood sampling to monitor the health of marine mammals, and cloning genes to study the evolution of the immune system and how the genes differ from humans and terrestrial mammals.
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