Shedd Aquarium welcomed two new arrivals last year to its beluga whale and Pacific white-sided dolphin pods. Both cetaceans have reached a critical milestone by reaching their first birthdays. Atlas, a male beluga whale, was born on Aug. 21, 2020, who became Shedd’s first second-generation beluga after making Bella, who was also born at the aquarium, a first-time mom. In addition, Harmony, a female Pacific white-sided dolphin, was born on Aug. 31, 2020, to Katrl.
Both calves continue to grow, socialize with members of their pods, participate in animal care sessions, and more. During these sessions, the animal care team builds a strong, trusting relationship with the yearlings. Sessions are designed to meet the physical, social and mental needs of the animals and involve various session types including play, exercise, husbandry and learning opportunities throughout the day.
Guests have an opportunity to experience, connect with and care about marine mammals that they would likely never have the chance to see in the wild by coming face-to-face with them at Shedd’s Abbot Oceanarium. In addition, the aquarium developed a dolphin calf naming virtual backpack when it partnered with Chicago Public Schools to engage fourth-grade classrooms to choose a name for Harmony, which can still be utilized at home or in school to learn about dolphins. The bilingual lessons, available in both English and Spanish, are available online.
About beluga whales: Found in the Arctic and the seas and coasts around North America, Russia and Greenland, beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) are easily recognized by their white color, the absence of a dorsal fin, and the distinctive protuberance at the front of their head, which houses an echolocation organ called the melon. Often called “canaries of the sea,” beluga whales communicate with each other by broadcasting squeals, trills, chirps and other sounds through their blowholes.
About Pacific white-sided dolphins: Found in the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean, Pacific white-sided dolphins are distinguished by their black backs, gray sides and white bellies. A suspender-like stripe runs down each side. Nicknamed “lags” after their unwieldy scientific name (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens), Pacific white-sided dolphins are known for their amazing aerial abilities and are among the fastest swimmers in the ocean, clocking in at 25 miles per hour.
VISUALS: High-resolution images and b-roll are available to download: https://personal.filesanywhere.com/fs/v.aspx?v=8e6c63875c6174799fa1.
Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium