Staff members from Vancouver Aquarium are among veterinarians and marine mammal experts from around North America converging in Alaska to help care for an infant beluga calf.
On Saturday, a tiny, two- to four-week-old male beluga was found stranded and alone in Cook Inlet, Alaska. The beluga population in Cook Inlet is considered critically endangered, with only 328 animals left.
With authorization from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S., the whale was rescued and taken to the Alaska SeaLife Centre in Seward.
A call for help was sent out, so vets and mammal experts with expertise in caring for beluga whales from across North America headed to Alaska. Brian Sheehan, marine mammal curator at Vancouver Aquarium, was among them.
He joined staff from Georgia Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium, Mystic Aquarium and SeaWorld to help with 24-hour care for the animal — the team is working shifts around the clock to provide intensive care for the calf.
Finding a stranded newborn beluga alive is relatively rare, and caring for infant cetacean calves is difficult.