Male Beluga Whale Arrives at Mystic Aquarium. Sea Research Foundation’s Mystic Aquarium has welcomed Naluark (Na-loo-ark), a male beluga whale from Chicago’s John G. Shedd Aquarium. Naluark comes to Mystic with the hope that he will breed with one of the aquarium’s two female beluga whales. “Shedd is committed to working with other zoos and aquariums to further breeding, conservation and research efforts with the animals we care for,” said Ken Ramirez, executive vice president of animal care and training at Shedd Aquarium. “We are proud to continue our collaboration with Mystic and to be a principle player in the North American breeding cooperative.” “We have a long-standing animal care and research relationship with Shedd,” said Dr. Stephen M. Coan, president and CEO of Sea Research. “We are excited once again to collaborate with Shedd and hope we will soon see a calf in our Arctic Coast exhibit from which we can learn more about these fascinating animals in our care and in the wild.” Naluark arrived in Mystic following a carefully coordinated marine mammal transfer protocol that
required meticulous planning by both institutions’ animal care, animal health and operations teams to ensure the most efficient and safe mode of transport. During the transport, which included two truck transfers and a flight on a chartered plane, Naluark rested in a customized “hammock” that supported his body weight. The hammock was secured inside a specially-designed container filled with water to keep him cool. Veterinarians and animal care staff from both aquariums remained at his side throughout the entire transport to ensure his comfort and health. Naluark has joined three beluga whales in Mystic Aquarium’s Arctic Coast exhibit, one of the largest outdoor beluga exhibits in the nation. Neither Naku nor Kela – Mystic Aquarium’s two females – has mothered a calf before, so they have been identified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as top priority for breeding. “It would be beneficial for all AZA institutions if a calf were bred from one of our females, as it would increase genetic diversity within the association’s beluga population,” said Dr. Tracy Romano, executive vice president of research and zoological operations at Sea Research. “It would also contribute significantly to our ongoing beluga research, helping us better understand behaviors, social interactions and the connections between mother and calf health.” Naluark, an Inuit word meaning “whitened skin,” weighs 2,100 pounds and is just over 13 feet long. Born in 1986, he has sired three calves at Shedd. Though Naluark may not breed immediately, he could create social competition that would stimulate Juno, the male beluga who came to Mystic in 2010 on a breeding loan from SeaWorld Orlando, to breed. The length of Naluark’s stay in
Mystic past this breeding season depends on a number of factors, including breeding behaviors and success. Traditionally, beluga breeding season takes place from March to May annually. About Mystic Aquarium; Mystic Aquarium is a division of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, and is counted among the nation’s leading aquariums with more than 300 species and an extensive collection of marine mammals, including New England’s only beluga whales. Mystic Aquarium has been a pioneer in offering guests a variety of up close encounters with a wide range of marine animals. The mission of Sea Research is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through education, research and exploration. Learn more at www.mysticaquarium.org or www.searesearch.org. About Shedd Aquarium; The John G. Shedd Aquarium, a nonprofit organization dedicated to public education and conservation, is among one of the world’s largest indoor aquariums. The facility houses over 32,500 aquatic animals representing some 1,500 species of fishes, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, birds and mammals from waters around the world. Beautifully situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, Shedd Aquarium is known as “The World’s Aquarium.” Since its opening in 1930, the aquarium’s mission has been to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the aquatic world. Shedd Aquarium is committed to a number of projects designed to preserve threatened or endangered aquatic species. Visit www.sheddaquarium.org to learn more. News from: The Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration is an aquarium and oceanography institute in Mystic, Connecticut.
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