Whale researcher concerned about beluga spotted in P.E.I. rivers

A whale researcher in Nova Scotia is urging Islanders not to go out on boats in search of a beluga whale that has been spotted in rivers around Charlottetown recently.

A beluga was spotted on the weekend in the Hillsborough River and in the West River on Sunday.

Catherine Kinsman, co-founder of the Whale Stewardship Project, said the Maritimes does not have a beluga population, and that the whale likely came from the St. Lawrence River estuary population or farther north.

"It's an exciting thing to see a beluga anywhere, they are such a beautiful and charismatic animal, but they're also vulnerable and so it is a concern to see them off on their own like this," she said in an interview on CBC News: Compass.

Kinsman encourages people to report sightings from the shore to the Marine Animal Response Society reporting line.

"It is always a concern if there are boats moving around them because they can and do get injured," she said.

"If you're going to want to view the whale, definitely view the whale from land."

'Adventurous' personality

Kinsman said the whale could have become separated from its group because of ship noise or ice movement in the winter or spring — or simply because the whale has an "adventurous" personality.

Kara MacDonald

Ideally, it will find its own way back to the ocean, she said, but DFO or the Marine Animal Response Society could intervene if the whale becomes stranded or unable to feed itself.


"We want to have as little interaction and intervention as is necessary. So as long as the whale is free swimming and is healthy, is clearly feeding himself, I don't see any reason for intervention so long as there is no presence of any danger to the whale."

But, she added, "Clearly the whale can't stay in the river for months on end."

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