Far from home, a stray narwhal has been taken in by a bevy of belugas in the St. Lawrence River.
For the past three years, a narwhal has been spotted cavorting in Canada's St. Lawrence River. Which might not seem like a very big deal, until you remember that narwhals are arctic creatures whose normal range is about 600 miles north.
But sometimes narwhals get lost.Robert Michaud, the president and scientific director of the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM) tells CBC that it's not unusual for young whales to roam into strange places from time to time – which can be dangerous. But fate appears to have dealt the runaway narwhal a better hand. "That little narwhal that made a similar trip was very lucky," Michaud said. "Because he found almost normal buddies."
The belugas appear to treat the narwhal exactly as if he were another beluga, say the researchers, suggesting the narwhal has become fully accepted. The narwhal has been seen behaving like a beluga, playing along, and even blowing bubbles.
While the two are distinct species and are different in a number of ways, they are alike in an important one: They are both very social. And previous research has shown that interaction between the two is not unheard of.
Martin Nweeia, Harvard researcher and narwhal expert, says that considering how social both species are, he believes they might be similarly capable of caring and compassion.
"I don't think it should surprise people," he says of the blended family in the St. Lawrence. "I think it shows … the compassion and the openness of other species to welcome another member that may not look or act the same."
He adds, "And maybe that's a good lesson for everyone:
The narwhal can be seen with his new peeps in the drone footage below shot by GREMM ... and it's enough to warm even the most xenophobic of hearts.