Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Synchronized swimming and nursing

Incredibly, the Vancouver aquarium is home to two captive-bred beluga whale calves at the moment, one one-year old and one three-week old. It's an rare opportunity to see whales do things you have always wondered how they do, such as give birth. When I was visiting recently, I observed the one year old calf nursing. The museum guide explained their tandem movements: the calf bumps the underbelly of the mother to signal a desire to nurse, they swim together underwater and the calf, with it's tongue shaped like a straw, takes a drink from one of the mother's two nipples, located close to her tail. Watch it happen in the video that I took - you can see a trail of whale milk in the water as the calf pulls away at the end.

1 comment:

  1. Great video!

    Whale watching tours, though interesting, are sometimes limited to showing whales exercising their blowholes from underwater. The Vancouver aquarium offers a remarkable opportunity to observe the behavior of beluga whales, including the infant shown in your video and described by the aquarium, accurately if not scientifically, as "slate gray, "wrinkled for the first few weeks" and, "adorable."