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Seward SeaLife Center's baby beluga doing well in captivity

Alaska Dispatch

According to The Associated Press,  the infant beluga whale bought to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward last month, has attracted a bevy of marine mammal specialists to Alaska.

While learning to suckle from a bottle and being fed by a stomach tube, the beluga is watched around the clock at the center. It was believed to be just a couple of days old when found near Naknek and delivered to Seward on June 18.

“He’s doing very well, swimming on his own,” Tara Riemer Jones, the SeaLife Center’s president, told the AP.  “He has been from the first time he got here, learning to take food from a bottle, which has been challenging.”

Staffers from the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and SeaWorld in San Diego are among the specialists who have arrived in Seward.  “It’s actually a pretty unprecedented event in certain ways,” said Dennis Christen, the Georgia Aquarium’s director of animal training. 

Brett Long, the husbandry director at the Seward center, said the whale’s odds of surviving remain long. "We take it a day at a time," he told the AP. "We're very happy to see that we appear to be meeting its nutritional goals and that it's maintaining its weight, and we're seeing slow, incremental weight gain."

At 5 feet in length, the calf has put on 5 pounds at the center and is up to 115 pounds.