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Permit to Import 5 Beluga Whales for Scientific Research (File No. 22629, Mystic Aquarium)


Marine Mammal Protection Act
Action Status
Affected Species



On August 27, 2020, NOAA Fisheries issued Permit No. 22629 to Mystic Aquarium to import five captive-born beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) for scientific research. The whales were imported from Marineland of Canada (Niagara Falls, Ontario) to Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut on May 14 and 15, 2021. Amendments to the permit authorized the substitution of three beluga whales, approval of a breeding prevention plan, approval of the use of oral contraceptives for “Kharabali" (NOA0010671), “Sahara” (NOA0010683) and “Jetta” (NOA0010684), and a new Responsible Party and Attending Veterinarian.

On August 6, 2021, the whale identified as “Havok” (NOA0010685) died. A second whale, “Havana” (NOA0010675) died on February 11, 2022. On December 11, 2023, a third whale, “Kharabali," died. Since “Havok’s” death, all research activities have been suspended until NOAA Fisheries authorizes research to resume.

Relevant documents are provided below under Supporting Materials. Additional application attachments can be viewed online.

Permitted Research

The purpose of the research is to conduct health-related research that is intended to contribute knowledge and inform management and recovery of beluga whale populations in the wild including the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale distinct population segment and the depleted Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River beluga whale stock. The permit is valid through August 31, 2025.

Public Hearing

NOAA Fisheries held a public hearing related to this permit application on November 18, 2019. A transcript of the hearing is provided below under Supporting Materials.

Public Comments

The public comment period for the original permit ended on December 2, 2019. Those public comments may be viewed via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal and entering NOAA-NMFS-2019-0113 in the keyword search.

Last updated by Office of Protected Resources on 05/16/2024