One of the Vancouver Aquarium’s nine beluga whales died yesterday (February 19) at a SeaWorld facility in Orlando, Florida.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the whale, named Nanuq, was being treated for an infection that appeared after he suffered a jaw injury caused by another whale with which he shared a tank.
The cause of death is unknown. A post-mortem examination has been scheduled but the results will likely not be known for several weeks.
Nanuq was estimated to be 31 or 32 years old. According to National Geographic, the average lifespan of a beluga in the wild is 35 to 50 years.
The Sentinel report states that Nanuq was at the Orlando aquarium as part of a “long-term breeding loan from the Vancouver Aquarium”.
In August 2014, the Globe and Mail reported that Nanuq was used in artificial reproduction programs in aquariums in the United States.
“In one Seaworld study, semen was collected from Vancouver Aquarium beluga Nanuq 42 times and subsequently used for 10 insemination attempts with seven females,” that article reads. “This resulted in two pregnancies, one of which was twin calves.”
The same month, the Georgia Straight published an article detailing the Vancouver Aquarium's participation in organized breeding at locations across the continent.
The aquarium based out of Stanley Park has long maintained it does not participate in organized breeding programs.
According to a July 2014 park board report, the Vancouver Aquarium owns eight beluga whales (nine including Nanuq). Two are kept in Vancouver, four are housed at Sea World facilities in the United States (Nanuq was a fifth), and two are on loan to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.