MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — The Animal Rescue Program at the Mystic Aquarium is where stranded animals are taken to be fed and cared for. They have been tracking three beluga whales since they were cited on Mother’s Day in Narragansett Bay.
The whales were sighted in Connecticut, in Long Island Sound in Fairfield, two days ago. Now, Janelle Schuh, the Stranding Coordinator, is warning the public that while the whales are cute, please stay away.
“We have had reports of them coming near vessels and potentially rubbing against boats, that sort of thing,” she said. “They are very curious animals.”
The belugas are thought to be juvenile males. The program has positively identified one from the St. Lawrence Estuary in Canada. While scientists think they may have been following food down from Canada, this is not their natural habitat, so Schuh is asking boaters to watch for the animals.
“It is really important that if you see them coming to your boat, turn the propeller off,” she said. “We don’t want the animals to get injured in anyway, and we are also requesting that the folks who do observe them, that they don’t follow the animals because that can cause stress.”
Schuh says Beluga whales are very friendly animals. They tend to move very slowly through the water, and tend hang out at the surface where boats can make contact with them. The programs say please be very careful, keep an eye out, and don’t interact with the whales.
“Enjoy it, not everybody gets an opportunity to see a beluga whale, but we do ask that you are respectful of the fact that they are there,” said Schuh. “Turn your propeller off and take a lot of good photos and make sure you contact us.”
Folks at the Animal Rescue Program say they will monitor the beluga whales and see how they do over the weekend, and can step in to help out if the animals are in distress. They ask that if you spot the whales, please call the aquarium to report it.