12th Beluga Carcass Discovered

On August 18, observers stationed on the rocks of the Marine Environment Discovery Centre (MEDC) in Les Escoumins notice an all white object offshore that is not moving. A beluga engaged in logging? A whale-watching cruise employee confirms the observation: it is indeed a beluga, but the animal is dead. It is a young female, just over 3 m long and still slightly gray. The carcass, which is in very good condition, is towed to the Quai des Pilotes in Les Escoumins by the Parks Canada team. It will be picked up and transported to the Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (FMV) the following morning. The necropsy performed by veterinary pathologist Stéphane Lair helped determine the cause of death. Once again it was due to a complication during recent calving; this time, a uterine rupture was at cause.

Here is a video of the carcass being recovered:

2015 death toll to date

This beluga is the 12th carcass to have been sampled in 2015. The count is now up to 6 adults, 2 juveniles and 4 newborns. Of these 12 carcasses, 6 have been transported to the FMV. Three were adult females, all of which died from complications during calving.

Once again, 2015 will be marked by an abnormally high rate of perinatal mortalities. This trend has been observed since 2010. There is great concern among researchers of the St. Lawrence Beluga Project who are still struggling to explain the cause of these increased mortalities.

 To learn more:

St. Lawrence beluga

St. Lawrence Belugas Declining

Marine Mammal Emergencies - 21/8/2015

Josiane Cabana

Josiane Cabana served as Director for the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network call centre from 2011 to 2018. When she’s not responding to cases of dead or vulnerable marine mammals, she likes to take the time to educate local residents on the threats faced by these animals. Biologist by training, she has been involved with the GREMM for more than 15 years, and always with the same undying passion!

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