NEWS

Beluga whale sighting in Liverpool Harbour worries marine biologist

06/19/2015 10:02 EDT | Updated 06/19/2016 05:59 EDT
A marine biologist is concerned about the safety of a beluga whale after a sighting in the Liverpool Harbour off Nova Scotia's South Shore.

The Marine Animal Rescue Society's Andrew Reid said it's dangerous for a whale to take up residence in a spot so close to human activity.

"We didn't want him to start to reside in a local area and start to interact with people because that increases the danger of the animal getting hit by a boat and killed," he said.

Reid is asking people to keep their distance and not approach the whale.

On Friday morning, a team including Reid and Fisheries and Oceans Canada officials went out on a boat, hoping to collect a skin sample from the whale. The plan was to use a device that looks like a hand plunger, to take a small skin and blubber sample.

However, the water was too rough for the team to get close enough to obtain the sample safely. They said they will try again at a later date.

Because of the friendly nature of beluga whales, Reid expects they will be able to get close.

Obtaining the sample shouldn't hurt the whale.

"We don't expect it to have any adverse effect on the animal," said Reid.

Reid believes the whale is the same one that was spotted in the Halifax area in late May.

"Definitely, it seems likely. We don't get solitary belugas that often, so to have more than one would definitely be unusual," he said.

With a skin sample, officials would be able to analyze it to see where the whale is from. It is most likely that the whale is from either the Gulf of St. Lawrence or the Arctic. Reid said knowing this is important because whales from the St. Lawrence are more endangered.

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