Two New Beluga Whales Join the SeaWorld San Antonio PodSeptember 23, 2019
On September 16, SeaWorld San Antonio welcomed two new members to its beluga whale pod; Atla and Pearl from SeaWorld San Diego. The two nine year old females joined eight other beluga whales and five Pacific whites-sided dolphins at Beluga Bay, the park’s beluga whale and dolphin habitat. SeaWorld San Antonio also welcomed four California sea lions, a screech owl, and a Texas map turtle. Four bottlenose dolphins and one California sea lion were relocated to SeaWorld Orlando.
SeaWorld parks across the country collaborate to promote the genetic diversity of beluga whales and other animals in professional care, enhance healthy populations, provide socialization between individuals and sustain the species through responsible breeding programs. It is crucial for facilities to collaboratively sustain the population, provide opportunities for research, and continue connecting millions of people with these incredible animals. In addition, the SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund has supported a variety of beluga research projects, including work with endangered populations in the St. Lawrence Estuary.
Beluga whales are typically found in arctic waters near Alaska, Canada, Norway, and the west coast of Greenland. While researchers estimate there are more than 150,000 beluga whales worldwide, some sub populations of beluga whales, like those in Alaska’s Cook Inlet and Canada’s St. Lawrence Seaway are considered critically endangered. In 2017 SeaWorld’s rescue team was part of a multi-facility effort to rescue and rehabilitate an orphaned beluga calf named Tyonek. After months of intensive, around the clock care, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association deemed Tyonek non-releasable and selected SeaWorld San Antonio as his new home.
By continuously monitoring the North American population, accredited zoos and aquariums can make decisions on what’s best for each beluga whale in their social grouping, breeding status, and their age. The goal of SeaWorld and other accredited zoological institutions is to sustain the population and ignite an interest and connection for millions of people across the continent. Through these efforts beluga whales will hopefully continue to thrive in North America and across the globe.
Beluga whales like Atla and Pearl allow the scientific community opportunity to better understand beluga whales and their behavior, and will give guests the opportunity to learn about and ultimately conserve this species of whale and its natural habitat.