Researchers with GREMM research where shocked to discover a narwhal swimming with a pod of beluga whales in the St. Lawrence River while filming beluga whales via drone. The team had just embarked on the annual St. Lawrence beluga census, which offers researchers insight into the complex social relationships of St. Lawrence belugas. The narwhal was more than 620 miles from its usual waters of the Arctic and was even displaying beluga behavior such as blowing bubbles! The drone, courtesy of the non-profit, Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals, captured the narwhal swimming and playing with the beluga whales, which according to researchers, is not typical of either of the whales.
As astonishing as the discovery was, the excitement didn’t stop there! After further observation and photos of various angles, the researchers learned that this narwhal was no stranger – the animal was the same one they had observed the previous two years! Clearly, the beluga whales consisting of ten young males have taken the narwhal in as one of their own. Researchers state this phenomenon is due to the climate change being observed in the Arctic and there is a chance that these two related species (the beluga and narwhal belong to the same family: Monodontidae) might find themselves in one another’s company more and more frequently in the decades to come.
The effects of climate change are far-reaching and this discovery is a real eye-opener to the massive changes that are taking place, the majority of which aren’t as cute. Climate change is causing artic animals’ natural habitat to melt at record levels. Ice sheets are melting at a rate of 8.6 million acres per year, sea levels and precipitation has increased, and food sources have become harder to find. Find out how you can help by clicking here.