But the numbers suggest that the death of a beluga whale in captivity is not much of a surprise. The mortality rate among baby belugas in captivity is 65 percent. And belugas who survive captivity long enough to become adults still don't live long, often dying before reaching 30, unlike their wild counterparts who can live to age 60, though we don't know their average life expectancy.
"Whenever a captive-born cetacean calf dies, I suspect the effects of captivity - especially maternal competence - are a factor," Naomi Rose, Ph.D., a marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, told The Dodo. "Given that the facilities have corporate reasons for insisting captivity has nothing to do with these deaths and refuse to conduct the necessary, objective science to truly understand mortality risk for captive-born calves, I am left to speculate that yes, captivity had something to do with this calf's death."