First ever beluga whale sighting in Rhode Island - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

First ever beluga whale sighting in Rhode Island

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by Shannon O'Hara


news@abc6.com


The first ever sighting of beluga whales in Rhode Island were reportedly seen in Naragansett Bay and the Taunton River, according to oceanographer's from URI.


These creatures normally reside in the arctic region and the closest beluga population to Rhode Island is up near Nova Scotia. 


Marine scientist Robert Kenney of URI states that beluga whales are known to travel south, with previous sightings being in Long Island, New Jersey, and occasionally in Cape Cod, but never before in Rhode Island.


A local fisherman in Narragansett Bay first spotted the whale on June 15.  Another whale was also spotted that same day in Assonet River, but is believed to be a different beluga. Additionally, a third whale was spotted near Gloucester, Massachusetts


These three whales are not believed to be in danger or unhealthy.  Kenney says the whales are "probably getting healthier food than they would in the St. Lawrence, where most belugas carry very high loads of toxic chemicals from eating contaminated fish."


In collaboration with the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals, a Quebec-based non-profit, Kenney is keeping a close monitoring of the whales.  

Photos are being taken to investigate if they can match them to known beluga individuals in their photo catalog.


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