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Belugas died from unknown toxin says Vancouver Aquarium

The aquarium conducted a 5-month investigation into the sudden deaths of two belugas

This photo of Aurora in Vancouver Aquarium was taken January 24, 2012.


This photo of Aurora in Vancouver Aquarium was taken January 24, 2012.

An unknown toxin killed two belugas at the Vancouver Aquarium last November, the non-profit announced Thursday. 

The organization conducted a five-month investigation after its two remainng belugas, Aurora and her daughter, Qila, mysteriously died nine days apart. 

Dozens of toxologists, doctors, and genome specialists contributed to the investigation but could not determine the exact toxin, the aquarium said in a written release. But the investigative team determined the toxin was likely introdued to the whales either through water, food, or human interference. 


The aquarium says it has since conducted numerous tests to reduce risks in the Arctic exhibit.

“The loss of Qila and Aurora was devastating. They were beloved members of our family and the community for more than two decades. Their loss is felt profoundly by our staff, members, supporters, and the public,” said Dr. Martin Haulena, head veterinarian at Vancouver Aquarium.

“The investigation has helped us understand what happened and, importantly, how we can best ensure the safety and welfare of marine mammals in our care.”

Moving forward, the aquariums says it is implement the following measures:

  • Enhance food-screening process
  • Remove all vegetation next to the habitat that has the potential to be problematic
  • Replace mechanical water treatment systems that house cetaceans
  • implement real-time testing and monitoring of water 
  • Update security system to reduce potential threat of human interference

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