But they’re not just here because visitors like to see them, they’re actually here for a higher purpose. Research is being done here and that could help Belugas in the wild.
Dr. Tracy Romano from Mystic Aquarium has seen first hand the effects of climate change on the Arctic. The loss of sea ice which she says opens up vulnerability to man-made impacts.
“Such as shipping traffic, oil exploration, mineral extraction. There are predators now in the area with warmer waters than.. that weren’t there before,” says Dr. Romano.
There are 150,000 Beluga whales as a whole but with critically endangered and declining populations in places like Cook Inlet, Alaska. Mystic Aquarium is hoping to take its research to the next level.
They have submitted a permit request, which welcomes public input to the National Marine Fisheries Services to import five Belugas from what they say is a crowded situation in Canada.
Dr. Romano said, “We’re developing non-invasive techniques to monitor reproduction, to monitor body conditions in health in the wild whales and that’s just one example of the many studies that we’re doing here for conservation efforts of Belugas in the wild.”
Juno is one of three Beluga whales at Mystic Aquarium and over the years they’ve certainly learned a lot from him.