Already the world’s largest aquarium with over 100,000 animals from around the world, Georgia Aquarium welcomed a new addition to their beluga whale family last week – befittingly born on Mother's Day (May 10).
Squirming into the world, the wee white whale measured in at 59 inches (1.5 meters) and weighed 126 pounds (57 kilograms). According to the American Cetacean Society, newborns typically weigh 110-130 pounds (50-60 kilograms), so she falls perfectly into the healthy weight category. As an adult, she could grow to between 13 to 17 feet (4 to 5 meters) and weigh between 2,000 to 3,000 pounds (907 to 1,360 kilograms)
"We couldn't be happier, as Mother's Day took on a new and special significance here at Georgia Aquarium!" the institution announced on its blog on Monday.
GIF composed from YouTube video by IFLScience
Beluga whales have a long gestation period, varying between nine and 18 months. As the mother, named Maris, is likely to only give birth to a single calf every three years, the marvelous birthing scene was broadcast via webcam to audiences worldwide.
The mother swam unaided for over three hours of labor while a tiny tail emerged slowly from her. Several divers plunged into the water to support the mother with the birth in case of any complications. So as not to disturb the mother during the birthing process, poolside veterinarians and animal trainers were instructed to remain quiet and calm. But, thankfully, the as-yet-unnamed baby beluga was born without human assistance. "Some people went airborne" with excitement, said Eric Gaglione, director of zoological operations, speaking to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
With beluga calf whale births a rarity in captivity and Maris’s last calf dying after less than a week alive, Maris has been under 24-hour watch by experts since last March.
"While there are many milestones within the first year that this baby beluga girl must surpass to ensure its survival, the team is hopeful for a successful outcome," Georgia Aquarium wrote in its statement.
And if you’ve ever wanted to see a beluga whale give birth, check out this video from the Georgia Aquarium.