A ninth beluga found dead in the St. Lawrence River

MATANE – A ninth beluga was found dead off Grosses-Roches, east of Matane. It was boaters who, on Tuesday, noticed the carcass adrift and towed it to the harbor of Grosses-Roches. She was later recovered Wednesday to be driven to Saint-Hyacinthe, where a necropsy will be performed by pathologists from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Montreal.
It was a female. “In the genital cleft, there was a fetus,” said spokeswoman for the Quebec Network of Emergencies for Marine Mammals, Marie-Eve Muller. It is possible that the fetus has descended. Was she giving birth? Necropsy will confirm it. For now, we can only confirm that she was pregnant. ”

This is the second pregnant female to die in the St. Lawrence estuary. On 4 July, an eighth carcass was found off Sainte-Flavie, near Mont-Joli, and later stranded on the beach. Necropsy confirmed that the female, known to researchers since 1990 and estimated to be 34 years old, died during her farrowing. “This is a case of dystocia, that is to say, she was not able to expel the newborn and died,” said Dr. Stéphane Lair, who oversees the marine mammal necropsy team at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Université de Montréal.

As females reach sexual maturity between the ages of 9 and 12, veterinarians believe she has already given birth. According to the Network, she was often seen with a one or two year old boy who appeared to be his calf. But, it is difficult to establish the filial links with certainty since the beluga females can sometimes take care of a little one who is not theirs.

By studying the fetus that this female bore, the scientists found, according to the Quebec Network of Emergencies, that it was the largest calf listed to date in the beluga population of the St. Lawrence. This factor may have played a role in its difficulty in giving birth. Tissue analyzes could provide new information.

M me Muller indicates that the seventh beluga body was found on the shore of Saint-Ulric, west of Matane, June 19 The male, nearly five meters long and weighing 1300 kg, is said to be the largest beluga whale in the last 30 years. He died of an injury to an eye that apparently had been punctured by a wooden stake.

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