Any day now, staff at the Vancouver Aquarium will be welcoming a new baby beluga whale into their marine family.
Aurora, 20, already a grandmother, is in the final days of pregnancy with her third calf.
This would be the aquarium’s second beluga birth in a year. On June 11, 2008, Aurora’s daughter Qila gave birth to her first baby, a female named Tiqa.
Nearly 200 trained volunteers with the Beluga Observer program are now helping monitor Aurora around the clock for signs of labour such as a decrease in appetite, increase in dominant behaviour and contractions.
Pat Chapman, who’s been volunteering at the aquarium since 2002, was part of the Beluga Observer program in 2008 when Aurora’s daughter gave birth to her first calf.
“We’ve observed some slightly more dominant behaviour from Aurora as she enters the final days of her pregnancy,” Chapman said.
“Aurora will be logging (resting at surface) and Tiqa will kind of sneak up on her, get really close and then just stare at her.
“One night we observed this behaviour and saw Aurora snap her jaw in response to Tiqa.”When Aurora goes into labour her water will break and she will go into contractions. It could last up to four hours.