KENAI, Alaska (AP) - A beluga whale calf found stranded on the Cook Inlet mud flats will not be released back into the wild, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NOAA officials said in a statement that the whale is not capable of surviving on his own, the Peninsula Clarion reported Sunday.
Experts said the whale, named Tyonek, had been less than one month old when he was stranded in September 2017.
“He is nutritionally and socially dependent, lacks both survival and socialization skills needed to be successful on his own in the wild, and it is likely his mother either abandoned him or died,” the NOAA statement said. “The calf also experienced a collapsed lung - a condition which may recur and compromise survivability in the wild by limiting his ability to dive.”
The calf has been under constant care at the Alaska SeaLife Center for more than three months.
NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Chris Oliver said the whale is the first rescued Cook Inlet beluga calf to survive.
“Although he cannot be released into the wild, he will continue to receive the care needed to thrive, and help us learn more about this iconic species,” Oliver said.
A decision will be made about Tyonek’s placement over the course of the next few weeks, the statement said.
Information from: (Kenai, Alaska) Peninsula Clarion, http://www.peninsulaclarion.com
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