There are some familiar faces in new places at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre this week. Jack and Daisy, two rescued harbour porpoises, have integrated into a new habitat in Canada’s Arctic, where they’ve joined beluga whales Aurora and Qila.

Under the guidance of marine mammal curator Brian Sheehan and head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena, and following several days of acclimation to the new environment for the porpoises, the four marine mammals are now permanently sharing the habitat.

“Jack and Daisy have adapted extremely well over the last few days and are eating and behaving normally. We’ve been monitoring them closely as they explore their habitat and interact with the belugas; they’re demonstrating both curiosity and comfort in the new space,” said Sheehan.

Dr. Valeria Vergara monitors the vocalizations of the animals as they interact for the first time.

Dr. Valeria Vergara monitors the vocalizations of the animals as they interact for the first time.

Although not regularly found together in the wild, harbour porpoises and beluga whales do have overlapping ranges including the subarctic region of Greenland. Here at the Aquarium, their water conditions and temperature requirements are the same, which allows us to expand the animals’ social grouping, provides new enrichment opportunities for all the animals and offers a unique opportunity for our researchers to study how these species interact and communicate with each other. As Jack and Daisy were introduced to their new habitat, scientists monitored their vocalizations through the use of hydrophones, providing a unique opportunity to gain insight into their reactions.

Daisy came to the Vancouver Aquarium in 2008 after she was found stranded off the coast of Vancouver Island. She was a dependent calf of about six weeks of age and severely dehydrated and malnourished when rescued. After many months of rehabilitation by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre team, she beat the odds with a full recovery but was deemed non-releasable by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) as she does not have the skills to survive on her own in the wild.

At five weeks old, Jack was discovered stranded on the beach in Horseshoe Bay in 2011. He was having difficulty breathing, could no longer swim and his muscles and skin were severely damaged due to the pressure of being stranded. The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre was called to provide emergency treatment and immediately placed him under 24-hour care. After his recovery, Jack was deemed non-releasable by DFO. The Vancouver Aquarium provides both him and Daisy with the long-term care they require.

The Vancouver Aquarium is a self-supporting, non-profit society and does not receive ongoing funds to provide around-the-clock care for its rescued and rehabilitated animals like Jack and Daisy. You can make a difference by donating to the Rescue Centre today.

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