EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE NEEDED FOR SOLITARY ORPHANED BELUGAS
A solitary, orphaned beluga in Eastern Canada needs your help. As you read this, baby beluga “Q”, as he is known, is trying to survive without his mother; with no other beluga whales in sight. He is only one of an increasing number of lost belugas who, every year, stray from threatened and endangered populations and show up in our busy harbors, thousands of kilometers from their families. These belugas need our help – and the Whale Stewardship Project has a plan – but they need your immediate support.
For over ten years, the Whale Stewardship Project (WSP) has established a proven record of public education, protection and research programs for lone belugas as part of a broader conservation effort to protect threatened and endangered species. This work, directed by Cathy Kinsman and Dr. Toni Frohoff, and often accomplished through volunteer hours, represents the only dedicated effort to study and protect these remarkable whales.
Growing up alone is dangerous for these young belugas. To fill the social void of their missing family they often approach boats and befriend people. Too frequently, this results in injuries or death, from propellers or other incidental or intentional harm from the people whom they have come to trust. Yet, with guidance and research these belugas can be protected. In fact, the WSP has been uniquely successful and has even established an internationally-recognized template used to protect solitary, sociable dolphins elsewhere around the world.
￼Right now, the belugas are facing unique challenges, yet we have unprecedented opportunities to help Q and others if we can respond before winter. Q is named for the quantum leap necessary to explore and implement more effective, efficient, and innovative strategies to protect and enrich the wild, free-swimming lives of lone beluga whales.
Belugas are highly intelligent and social, typically exhibiting extremely close and extended social bonds with their mothers and other pod mates. Thus, these orphans need more than basic management for their physical safety. They also require behavioral nurturing to support and enrich them psychologically and socially at this critical stage of their early development. Therefore, this work, which operates with the hope that these individuals may eventually reintegrate with other whales, is pivotal in identifying and accommodating vital aspects of beluga well-being. As we build upon a decade of established work, this project promises to break critical new ground.
The Whale Stewardship Project is responding not only to the welfare of individual belugas, but to essential conservation needs, especially since stray belugas are an increasingly recognized and prevalent feature of depleted populations. This work will improve our ability to respond to, and perhaps even prevent, situations in which belugas are fatally entrapped in rivers or ice. The need for this work is further magnified by a perilous situation in the St. Lawrence River Estuary this year, where at least ten belugas – perhaps Q’s relatives - died from the worst toxic algal bloom the region has seen. Shown above, WSP's Kathy Kinsman records video of Q.
This request is urgent - Q needs our help now before the weather turns. You can be part of this exciting and pivotal effort for Q and other belugas in danger with your contribution. The commitment to helping Q and other solitary belugas through these challenging times necessitates the Whale Stewardship Projects’ first international appeal for donations.
The media across Canada and the public are following Q’s story and are hoping for a positive outcome for this little orphaned beluga. He has become an inspiring symbol in the face of extraordinary challenges. You are invited to support him.