This baby Beluga whale is on display at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.
The as yet un-named female calf, which was born at the end of August to mother Mauyak, is around 5' in length. She weighs over 200 pounds, and is gaining up to 15 pounds a week. Improving her milk-intake efficiency, the calf latches onto her mum an average of 20 minutes per day.
As the calf has mastered nursing, 1,200-pound Mauyak’s appetite has grown as well, nearly tripling her normal diet – she's eating up to 88 pounds of fish a day.
As the new calf continues to plump up, Shedd’s marine mammal care team has noticed that she is shedding her gray-shaded skin. Newborn beluga whales are born with slate-colored skin, but as they mature, the whales become a creamy white tone to blend into icy backgrounds. The process, which you can see in the picture, is called sloughing, another indication that Mauyak’s calf is growing.
The curious calf is also experimenting with another development milestone — play. Following alongside her mum, the Beluga baby can be seen playing with pieces of fish that her mother drops, and has also recently started approaching Shedd’s trainers in the water for a tongue tickle or a rub on the head.
The female Beluga calf is the sixth successful birth as part of Shedd’s collaboration in the Beluga whale breeding co-operative.
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