PEI

Beluga whale making the rounds in P.E.I. waters

Those on P.E.I. this weekend might want to keep their eyes on the water. A beluga whale has been seen several times.

Whale was caught in netting near Mount Stewart on Wednesday, but freed itself

This isn't the first time a whale has visited P.E.I. waters. Last December, this beluga whale visited Summerside Harbour. (John Robertson/CBC)

Those on P.E.I. this weekend might want to keep their eyes on the water.

A beluga whale recently spotted in P.E.I. waters is being monitored by The Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

DFO officials say fishery officers received reports from a member of the public on Tuesday of a beluga near the Hillsborough River Bridge.

Then on Wednesday, the beluga was seen caught in netting around Mount Stewart, officials said in an email. Fishery officers responded but by the time they arrived, the whale had already freed itself.

The animal was last seen on Thursday night in West River, in the Meadowbank area, DFO officials said.

This isn't the first time a beluga has appeared in P.E.I. waters.

Is it Nepi?

In December, a beluga was spotted in the Summerside Harbour.

That whale was confirmed by the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals as Nepi, a whale known for approaching people.

Nepi, was one of two beluga whales who delighted paddle boarders and boaters in Ingonish, N.S., last year. (Submitted by Levon Drover)

Nepi was rescued from the Nepisiquit River in New Brunswick in June 2017 and was tracked by a tag for 20 days before the signal was lost.

"The first question that popped up in our mind, 'could it be Nepi?," Robert Michaud, the group's scientific director said.

However, from the pictures the organization has been able to obtain, Michaud said he is unable to confirm if it is the same whale.

Wandering whales

Michaud said it is not unique to have whales in the area.

Over the last 30 years, the organization has been tracking quite a few wandering belugas, who usually are part of the St. Lawrence beluga population.

Once in a while one gets lost and ends up in P.E.I. waters.

"These whales when they get lost, when they get alone, they tend to be sociable. Indeed they are attracted to humans," Michaud said.

A sociable beluga joined the Holland College students taking part in the commercial diving training program back in December. (Submitted by Kimball Johnston)

Their curiosity can get them into trouble. They start playing with humans and boats."

"Sometimes chasing food can get them in trouble. The whale that entered in the … net near Mount Stewart could have been entrapped. Fortunately, he was able to free himself."

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About the Author

Tony Davis grew up on P.E.I. and studied journalism at Holland College. He can be contacted at anthony.davis@cbc.ca

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