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Russia ushers in historic birth of baby white whale at Primorsky Aquarium

This was the first time in history that a Russian white whale produced offspring in an artificial habitat
Primorsky Aquarium Yuri Smityuk/TASS
Primorsky Aquarium
© Yuri Smityuk/TASS

VLADIVOSTOK, September 15. /TASS/. The Primorsky Aquarium has announced the birth of baby beluga whales in its dolphinarium, a first-time event of this kind for Russia, the aquarium’s press service reported on Wednesday.

"Jessica, a beluga whale, became a mother for the first time in her life. Her strong and active baby was born on August 1. This is not only the first life experience for 14-year-old Jessica, but it also was a unique event for Russia, given the appearance of a white whale offspring in the dolphinarium. Now the baby is in her first molt. According to biologists, this natural process involves both a change of color and the normal development of the white whale calf," the note stated.

As TASS reporters were informed at the press service, this was the first time in history that a Russian white whale produced offspring in an artificial habitat.

Just a few similar cases have been reported throughout the world. The information about the birth had been kept secret for a long time since nobody was allowed to disturb the animals. The workers had been waiting for when they would be permitted to take a picture of the baby.

"Jessica gave birth without our help. The girl was born at night, at 1:20 am, and almost immediately it started to feed on her mother’s milk on her own, although this doesn’t always happen in the first 24 hours after birth in white whales. Since then, her father, a beluga named Ler, has never left the mother’s or daughter’s side for long. During the first few days after birth, when the calf was learning how to swim, the parents nudged her to the surface, supporting her on the water," the press service revealed, citing a statement by Igor Kostychev, who heads the dolphinarium.

After the end of the strict "nursery" quarantine, not only will coaches and vets be able to observe the first white whale calf born in a Russian dolphinarium but so will scientists. "Jessica and her firstborn have already become objects of close attention by marine biologists and sonar specialists.

The Primorsky Aquarium was built at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s directive and has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region. The Aquarium became a part of the A.V. Zhirmunsky National Scientific Center of Marine Biology, the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (NSCMB FEB RAS) - the first Aquarium in Russia included into the Russian Academy of Sciences.