An orphaned baby beluga whale found on the shore of the St. Lawrence River earlier this week is facing an uncertain future, despite the best efforts of the humans that stepped in to help it.
A family vacationing in Rivière-du-Loup, Que., came across the whale Thursday afternoon around 1 p.m. The tide was low, so the whale was almost completely out of the water.
The family started dousing it with water and used a sheet to protect it from the sun.
"We dug a hole so that water would accumulate and its skin would hydrate," said 15-year-old Nicholas Milliard, who came across the beluga with his two younger brothers.
"Every five minutes we got it a bucket of water. The water level was dropping, and it was becoming more and more difficult to get water."
The Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals(GREMM), based in Tadoussac, was called in and had the whale looked over via Facetime by a Vancouver-based veterinarian. It was determined the whale was female and probably only hours old; its umbilical cord was still attached to its body.
Josiane Cabana, spokesperson for GREMM, said what happened to the mother is a mystery. Did she die during birth, was she killed by a predator, or was it something else? All those questions may go unanswered.
Milliard and his brothers are hopeful they averted at least one beluga similar misfortune.
"We are proud," he said. "We told ourselves we just saved a life, and a rare one at that."
Source: www.cbc.ca / Image: GREMM
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