Scientists who monitor whales on the St. Lawrence River in Canada have noticed something peculiar about a group of young belugas, one of them is not a beluga at all.
The belugas of San Lorenzo seem to have adopted a lost narwhal, which was seen swimming with a group of at least 10 other whales in images of drones captured in August.
While narwhals often spend their lives in the cold waters of the Arctic, this individual, for some reason, has ventured farther south.
And researchers say he seems to be at home with his new family.
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The belugas of San Lorenzo seem to have adopted a lost narwhal, which was seen swimming with a group of at least 10 other whales in images of drones captured in August. The narwhal can be seen as the dark speckled whale just above the center of the image
According to researchers from the Research and Education Group on Marine Mammals (GREMM), this is not the first time they have seen the lost narwhal with their beluga companions.
The male narwhal was seen in 2016 and 2017 as well. With a mottled and dark coloration and a huge tusk protruding from his head, it protrudes like a sore thumb between the pale beluga whales.
But that has not stopped this group from considering him as one of their own.
"The sequence of drones that we collected showed a narwhal that seems to be at home with the belugas of San Lorenzo," the researchers wrote in a blog post.
"We observed him in a group of about ten young men in the middle of socialization."
The images of the sighting show approximately a dozen white beluga whales swimming in the San Lorenzo river.
As they get closer to the surface, it becomes instantly clear that one is not like the rest.
The whales swim playfully together, forming a very compact group and colliding with each other.
The male narwhal was seen in 2016 and 2017 as well. With a mottled and dark coloration and a huge tusk protruding from his head, it protrudes like a sore thumb between the pale beluga whales. But that has not stopped this group from considering him as one of their own
NARWHALS AND BELUGA WHALES PASS THROUGH MENOPAUSE, ALSO
Beluga whales and narwhales go through menopause "like humans", scientists discovered.
They suggest that the trait, which is extremely rare in the animal kingdom, helps reduce competition for food within family groups.
Most species in nature continue to reproduce until they die, but the latest finding means that now a total of five species are known to stop reproducing during their lifetime.
Along with humans, killer whales and short-finned pilot whales were the only other previously known species to experience menopause.
Understanding how the whales evolved the trait can shed light on why our early ancestors developed it themselves.
Researchers from the University of Exeter, York University and the US Whale Research Center. UU They carried out the new study.
It may seem unusual, but as rising temperatures push species into new environments, the researcher says it may soon be more common.
Due to the climate change observed in the Arctic, there is the possibility that these two related species (the beluga and the narwhal belong to the same family: Monodontidae) may find themselves increasingly in mutual company in the coming decades. ", wrote the researchers of GREMM.
"We already see this phenomenon in other species such as the polar bear and the brown bear, which has even been observed to intersect.
"Could we someday observe a Naruba-Beluga hybrid in San Lorenzo?"