Picture Id: 412104
Wilma, a Beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) named by the locals of Chedabucto Bay, Nova Scotia, has a special and unusual relationship with humans. Most Be luga whales remain elusive and rarely allow humans to get close, but Wilma seem s to welcome contact. After losing her mother in 1994 and therefore lacking the guidance to travel home to Canada's St. Lawrence River, Wilma has adopted Chedabucto Bay a s her home. Most often, she is found in close proximity to a large red buoy she seems to have adopted as her surrogate mother. Local Jim Johnson has become very close to Wilma, and can call her to him from underwater--even when she cannot be seen from the surface. Because of Wilma's desire for contact with humans, there is growing concern f or her safety and for her future. It is not known whether she will v enture out to seek a mate, or if she will just die as she lived in Chedabucto B ay--alone. This possibility has interested conservation groups who are now con sidering Chedabucto Bay as a site to re-introduce belugas from aquariums back into the w ild. Beluga whales live in cold northern waters. They eat fish, squid and crab s and can grow as long as 14-feet and weigh as much as 2,500 pounds.
CHEDABUCTO BAY, NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA.
BRIAN J. SKERRY/National Geographic Creative