Georgia Aquarium announces birth of baby beluga whale

ATLANTA - The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta has announced the birth of its newest beluga whale.

Staff at the aquarium say the calf was born on Sunday, May 17 to its mother, 20-year-old Whisper.

At birth, the newborn weighed 174 pounds and measured 5 feet and 4 inches long. After a long labor, mother and calf are resting and bonding away from other beluga whales, according to the aquarium. Georgia Aquarium staff are keeping close watch over the pair.

The typical gestation period for beluga whales is 15 to 16 months. Births most frequently occur in late spring or early summer.

The Georgia Aquarium remains closed to the public to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

A number of belugas have died at the Georgia Aquarium in recent days, including three calves and an adult female who died from heart failure.

The aquarium has been active in attempts to import wild beluga whales from Russia and captive-born beluga whales from Canada. Animal rights groups opposed the aquarium’s involvement in its most recent attempt to help a Connecticut aquarium import five whales. The Mystic Aquarium would own three of the whales, while the Georgia Aquarium would own two. All five are supposed to be housed in Connecticut for five years of research, but they could be relocated to Atlanta.

Federal officials have yet to act on the application. They denied an earlier attempt by the Georgia Aquarium and others to import 18 captured belugas. The Georgia Aquarium later said it would not accept wild-caught dolphins or whales.

Video credit: Georgia Aquarium via Storyful