Neo

Beluga

ligne décoration
  • ID number

    DL2450

  • Sex

    Male

  • Year of birth

    Unknown

  • Known Since

    2005

Distinctive traits

Deformed back that forms a very pronounced curve just after the dorsal crest – some observers think they saw two beluga whale backs when they observed Neo.

Black dots on the right flank.

2006
2007
2008
2008
2019 © David Turgeon

Life history

Neo was astonishing from his first meeting with GREMM in 2005: despite his remarkable figure, he had never been photographed before! The young beluga whale has a hollow back, due to a major deformation of the spine, as well as black dots on its right flank, distinctive features that facilitate the photo-identification process. It is believed that Neo was born in an upstream beluga whale community, less documented by researchers.

As an adult, Neo continues to surprise. At this age, male beluga whales generally leave the family nest to form clans with other males. However, observers from Pointe-Noire and Sainte-Marguerite Bay, who have the opportunity to see Neo several times a season, observe that he often swims alone, or accompanied by juveniles and females. His physical handicap could be at the origin of this isolation and could even have provoked aggressive behaviour from other males. However, his solitude has advantages for humans: because he was isolated, researchers were able to distinguish and record Neo’s “contact call”, a unique acoustic signature specific to each individual.

Observations history in the Estuary

2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020

Years in which the animal was not observed Years in which the animal was observed

Dernières nouvelles

Neo was astonishing from his first meeting with GREMM in 2005: despite his remarkable figure, he had never been photographed before! The young beluga whale has a hollow back, due to a major deformation of the spine, as well as black dots on its right flank, distinctive features that facilitate the photo-identification process. It is believed that Neo was born in an upstream beluga whale community, less documented by researchers.

As an adult, Neo continues to surprise. At this age, male beluga whales generally leave the family nest to form clans with other males. However, observers from Pointe-Noire and Sainte-Marguerite Bay, who have the opportunity to see Neo several times a season, observe that he often swims alone, or accompanied by juveniles and females. His physical handicap could be at the origin of this isolation and could even have provoked aggressive behaviour from other males. However, his solitude has advantages for humans: because he was isolated, researchers were able to distinguish and record Neo’s “contact call”, a unique acoustic signature specific to each individual.

Neo’s deformed silhouette is unmistakable. Although he looks like Pascolio, he can be distinguished by his swimming movement (among other things, Pascolio almost always shows his tail when diving, and Neo never), and by a few black dots on his right flank. We also notice the difference in coloring which betrays their age difference: Pascolio is white, adult, while Neo is still grayish, therefore juvenile. Observers posted at the lookouts at Pointe-Noire or Sainte-Marguerite Bay have the opportunity to spot him several times a season, sometimes alone, sometimes in groups of different natures, either females and juveniles or juvenile males.

In 2005, during the first meeting with the GREMM research team, Neo created a surprise: how could it be that such a deformed beluga had never been photographed before? It was a juvenile beluga, and researchers learned from a biopsy that it was a male. However, males, once they reach a certain age, leave the community of females in which they were born. Neo may therefore have been born in the upstream community, which is less documented by researchers.

What will he do as he approaches adulthood? Will he establish strong bonds with other males, as is usually the case with adult males, who form networks, clans and even small groups of stable mates? Will his physical disability hinder this socialization? A story to follow!

Many “deformed” belugas frequent the waters of the St. Lawrence and Saguenay rivers. Pascolio, Scolio, Neo and others are easily recognizable, but photos are often necessary to confirm identification in the field. The GREMM catalog includes several hundred individuals, of which more than 250 are well known.