After word broke that beluga whales in the area have seen a sharp decline in recent years, the energy company TransCanada halted work on a plan to develop a massive supertanker port in the St. Lawrence River to ferry crude oil from its proposed Energy East pipeline.
The news came just hours after the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) released a list of wildlife species at risk, with belugas at the forefront. Once numbering as high as 10,000 individuals, the population, which lives all year in the polluted waterway, was decimated by whalers until beluga hunting was banned 1979. Now, their population hovers at just about 1,000 animals - a fact that led COSEWIC to assess them as endangered.
Shortly after, TransCanada announced that its port plans for a site at Cacouna, on Quebec's south shore would be scrapped for now. The terminal would have shipped crude oil from Alberta on 900-foot tankers that would come in and out of the site every week. For belugas - a sensitive species that relies on sound to communicate underwater - the presence of more and louder ships could be disastrous.