Poco the beluga whale is seen in this recent
video image taken in the Bay of Fundy. He's no Moby Dick, but the lonely beluga
lost in the Bay is garnering much attention as he searches for companionship in
the waters off New Brunswick.
L'il Poco, please
A friendly beluga
whale who's been traveling the Atlantic for months seeking out divers and boats
has not made the desired move to rejoin his whale family in northern waters and
is instead hanging around looking for companions in the waters off the coast of
And it's likely that by fall, the baby beluga will
be cutting capers in New Brunswick waters.
whale's first sighting was near an aquaculture site in the Bay of Fundy in
September of 2003. He was seen circling a barge near Pocologan, New Brunswick
and soon became known as "Poco."
WHALE: Researchers fear for
tame beluga's safety in the Gulf of Maine
Since then Poco has
been spotted all along the eastern coast from New Brunswick to Massachusetts.
Currently, he is in Maine and was spotted there a few
weeks ago by the American Secret Service. Poco was apparently frolicking off
the coast of Kennebunkport, Maine near President George Bush's summer estate
when Secret Service officials spotted him.
The last time
Poco was seen in New Brunswick was this past Valentine's Day. He was seen by
two divers around Deer Island.
After that, Poco headed to
American waters. He was spotted in Boston Harbour in April and it's likely
that's where he spent the winter.
Cathy Kinsman, project
director for the Whale Stewardship Project, a non-profit group based in
Musquodoboit Harbour near Halfiax, has studied and lobbied for the protection
of lost belugas in Eastern Canada since 1998. She named the whale "Poco."
Ms. Kinsman has been following Poco's adventures since he
"We are really hoping that Poco is going to
continue traveling northward," she said.
She said that
while it isn't unheard of for belugas to be in this part of the world, it is
abnormal for one as young as Poco to be alone, so far away from his pod.
Belugas make their home in the Arctic and sub-arctic
regions and are rarely seen in waters south of the St. Lawrence River. The
whale is endangered and only about 100,000 of them remain.
Beluga whales generally travel together and researchers
don't know what causes the creatures to separate from their pods. Theories
include unexpected icepack shifts and shipping noise that makes it impossible
for the highly communicative belugas to find their way to one another
It's probable that Poco, because he's alone
and has no other whales to talk to, gravitates to the sound of boat motors and
human sound in the water.
He places himself in bad
situations such as entering busy harbours. He has several long gashes on his
back and Mr. Kinsman said in the last week Poco has sustained a brand-new cut
on his head that is probably from a boat propeller.
fear for his safety, primarily because he is such an inquisitive little animal
and is showing interest in absolutely everything that is going on in his
environment," she said.
Poco, who is about three years
old and around nine feet long, is particularly fond of scuba divers and follows
them around, peering into their face masks and rolling in the air bubbles
rising from their gear.
Ms. Kinsman said it would be
ideal if Poco would go home.
"I'm hoping, absolutely,
that Poco will keep traveling until he gets back into the company of other
beluga whales. That is his best chance for a normal and healthy and long life."