Rare sightings of a beluga whale in the Halifax area are raising questions about whether there is more than one of the animals nearby.
The whale has been spotted in both the Halifax Harbour and the waters off Terence Bay, a rural fishing community in the Halifax Regional Municipality, about 30 kilometres by land from downtown Halifax.
Initially, it was assumed to be the same whale. However, the timeline raises questions, says Tonya Wimmer, the co-ordinator of the Marine Animal Response Society.
The last confirmed sighting was Friday morning in the waters near the MacKay Bridge in the Halifax Harbour, while the sighting in Terence Bay — originally reported to have occurred today — happened Thursday morning.
On Friday, Fisheries and Oceans Canada warned people to stay away from the beluga whale that had been spotted in the Halifax Harbour
Officials were concerned the whale could get caught up in propellers of small boats, in fishing lines or in ropes anchoring lobster traps near the mouth of the harbour. As well, officials worried that if people were in a small boat and the whale went underneath it, the whale could flip the boat.
The whale was first spotted in the harbour on Monday near the government wharf in Eastern Passage.
Wimmer told CBC News on Friday the whale most likely came from the endangered St. Lawrence population of beluga whales.
“Every now and then they have juveniles who go for a wander,” she said. “Occasionally they end up in harbours.”
According to International Business Times, in the past few weeks three beluga whales have been repeatedly spotted off the coasts of New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut.