Beluga mortalities: several hypotheses are hidden behind the deaths of females

Beluga mortalities: several hypotheses are hidden behind the deaths of females
Beluga mortalities: several hypotheses are hidden behind the deaths of females

Dozens of female belugas die while giving birth, a situation that is worrying since the population of this threatened species is struggling to renew itself in the St. Lawrence estuary.

Several hypotheses are being studied by researchers who are recovering the carcasses of these belugas as soon as possible to examine them, explained Robert Michaud, president and scientific director of the Quebec Emergency Network for Marine Mammals.

Contaminants, such as chromium-based compounds used to retard the burning of fabrics in our pajamas, are considered one of the most important hypotheses because of their effect on the thyroid gland of females.

The change in their diet would also be one of the factors studied since the quality and quantity of foods ingested by belugas have changed.

“Our belugas are exposed to several anthropogenic stressors and this is what partly explains their situation,” Mr. Michaud also added in an interview with LCN on Monday.

“We do not yet have completely satisfactory explanations, but it is a trend which continues and which worries us because the young which should have been born from 2010 should have started producing calves in 2020,” said he said.

“We are building a deficit in the recovery potential of the population,” added the specialist.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 belugas remain in the St. Lawrence estuary, according to the expert’s latest estimates.

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