A marine mammal scientist for Vancouver Aquarium says the reason behind the death of Aurora, the beluga whale, has yet to be determined.
Speaking at the BC Marine Mammal Symposium on Saturday, Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard says staff at the aquarium are devastated by Aurora’s death.
He says experts are working as hard as possible to figure out why she and her daughter Qila passed away.
“The range of possibilities still extends all the way from a fungal pathogen to a bacterial pathogen to a viral pathogen to a toxin. And we’re pulling the stops out to try and figure that out.”
A necropsy was due to be carried out on Aurora yesterday, but the results have yet to be revealed.
Meanwhile, the death of both belugas has prompted debate about whether or not whales should be kept in captivity at all.
‘No Whales in Captivity’ president, Annelise Sorg, says Vancouver Aquarium should empty their beluga whale tank now that Aurora and Qila have passed away.
“Whales and dolphins do not belong in captivity. It is terribly cruel to keep them, to capture them, to breed them. We are definitely looking at the aquarium to stop the importation of more beluga whales,” she said.
But Dr. Barrett-Lennard says he stands by the decision to keep cetaceans in captivity, saying they serve a valuable purpose.
“We have them to serve as animal ambassadors, to inculcate a stewardship ethic and a care about these animals in the wild. That’s why we do it and you may think that that’s not the right way to do it, but that’s been our approach since day one,” he said.