AWI Is Alarmed by Another Beluga Death at Mystic Aquarium

A captive beluga swims in an enclosure with people's reflections in the tank's glass
Photo by caelumcrow

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) is appalled to learn that another beluga whale has died at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut. The aquarium announced today on its Facebook page the death of a female beluga, one of five whales imported in May 2021 from Marineland in Canada.

Havok, the only male beluga imported from Marineland, died in August at Mystic, apparently from a “preexisting condition” related to gastric abnormalities. This latest death, well short of a year after the import, is equally disturbing, though the cause is not yet known. The whale had been in “intensive care over the past several months for multiple health issues,” Mystic said in its Facebook post. Another whale is also in intensive care, according to Mystic.

“These five whales were supposed to be healthy when they were imported, but it is becoming increasingly clear they were not,” said Dr. Naomi Rose, AWI’s marine mammal scientist. “If Mystic knew this and imported them anyway, that is unacceptable. If they did not know, that is incompetence. These whales deserve better — we demand a full government investigation into this situation. What was meant to be an uneventful import for research has become a disaster.”

AWI will be monitoring the National Marine Fisheries Service’s website for the full necropsy reports for Havok and this unidentified whale, which are required to be submitted and posted publicly under the permit conditions for the import.

Media Contact Information

Marjorie Fishman, Animal Welfare Institute, (202) 446-2128

The Animal Welfare Institute ( is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates and other important animal protection news.

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