NEWS
09/13/2018 16:46 EDT | Updated 09/14/2018 09:19 EDT

Narwhal Adopted In Beluga Pod In Rare Interspecies Friendship

Scientists are interested to see if the animals breed together.

MONTREAL — The head of a marine research group says a young narwhal that has been spotted swimming with belugas in the St. Lawrence River appears to be just another member of the pod.

Robert Michaud says the wayward arctic mammal was first spotted in 2016 swimming with a group of juvenile belugas in the river, some 1,000 kilometres south of its usual range.

Drone footage captured by the research group earlier this summer confirmed the narwhal is still with the same group and was playing and interacting with them just like any other beluga.

Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals/THE CANADIAN PRESS
A narwhal is shown swimming with a group of beluga whales in this undated handout photo.

Michaud says the interspecies friendship is rare but not surprising, given that the two species are closely related and have similar habits.

Their interactions, he says, are yet another proof that whales exhibit much more complex social behaviours than previously thought.

Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals/THE CANADIAN PRESS
A narwhal is shown swimming with a group of beluga whales in this undated handout photo.

He says the young narwhal appears healthy and researchers are eager to see if it breeds with a beluga in a few years to create a hybrid baby.