Experts plan to begin trying to remove an endangered beluga whale from a northern New Brunswick river and relocate it to its natural habitat today.
The Fisheries Department says it is hoping to move the juvenile whale from the Nepisiguit River to the St. Lawrence Estuary near Cacouna, Que.
It’s working with marine mammal groups and veterinarians who will be on site today to undertake the complex procedure and attach a tracking device to the whale.
They are planning to return the whale to its natural habitat in the estuary, where there is a pod of belugas.
It’s not clear why the whale wandered into the river weeks ago, but scientists suggest it may have been following fish and gotten lost.
The whale – about two metres long – appeared healthy earlier in the week, but was showing no sign it planned to leave the river on its own.
The population of the St. Lawrence belugas has been declining since the early 2000s and it’s believed there are fewer than 900 of them still in existence.