QUÉBEC CITY, Nov.10, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - The Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM) is relaunching its beluga adoption campaign, an initiative that was first undertaken in 1988. Nearly 130 belugas had found sponsors, which helped support the long-term research program designed to identify solutions to the problems faced by belugas.
Today, the campaign is taking a turn: new sponsors are encouraged to maintain their support for at least 3 years, which corresponds to the period that young belugas need their mothers. Further, the campaign and the beluga family album will have their own web-based platform and social networks at adoptezunbeluga.org. "We have lots of fascinating stories to tell about these animals, emphasizes Robert Michaud, GREMM President and Scientific Director and coordinator of the St. Lawrence Beluga Project. Every summer, we spend hundreds of hours at sea with them. We want to share their stories!"
Cities and an industry tied to the St. Lawrence
For its kick-off, the Adopt a Beluga campaign is already enjoying a strong show of support. St. Lawrence riverside communities in Quebec are adopting 10 belugas, with Québec City, Montréal, Lévis and Tadoussac each having adopted one beluga. In response to the invitation of Mayor Labeaume, some twenty municipalities are also participating in the joint adoption of a group of belugas, based on a contribution of 1 cent per citizen.
"For the past few years, we have made tremendous efforts to ensure the protection, recovery and development of the St. Lawrence River, mentions Québec City mayor Mr. Régis Labeaume. These gestures are of great importance for all riverside citizens, which is why I invite all communities along the St. Lawrence to follow Québec City's example and symbolically adopt a beluga."
"The St. Lawrence River has been at the centre of my entire professional life and I am therefore very happy that the City of Montréal has joined this campaign. For us, this action is testimony to our commitment and solidarity toward other St. Lawrence riverside municipalities. Indeed, we are all concerned with the protection of the biodiversity and natural areas of the St. Lawrence River. It is my hope that this financial support will contribute to a better understanding of this environment and identify solutions facilitating the conservation of marine mammals of our great river" declared Ms. Chantal Rouleau, Montréal's executive committee member responsible for water and water infrastructure, and mayor of the Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles borough.
Canada Steamship Lines (CSL) is also adopting a beluga. "CSL has been active on the St. Lawrence River for over 100 years and is committed to maintaining the health of this incredible national treasure. Our beluga adoption is one of the most important steps we've taken to help protect the St. Lawrence to date – for the benefit of species, and the communities that depended on it for their livelihoods. We invite Green Marine and its members to follow suit!" said Kirk Jones, Vice-President, Sustainability, Government and Industry Affairs at CSL.
Other sponsors and invitation to the general public
Other sponsors confirmed their commitment even before the official launch: the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, the John G. Shedd Aquarium of Chicago, the Vancouver Aquarium, the Aquarium du Québec, Québecor as well as doctors attending the 10th medical congress on emergency medicine in regional communities organized by the Haute-Côte-Nord-Manicouagan CSSS each adopted one beluga. "Every adoption is a beautiful story, every sponsor has a particular reason for adopting a beluga. We wanted to give them a window into the campaign's new web platform" explains Mr. Michaud.
The general public is also invited to participate in the campaign. The web-based platform adoptezunbeluga.org facilitates participation in a collective adoption or forming a group to adopt a beluga. Says Mr. Michaud: "In 1988, we were both surprised and thrilled by the buzz created by the campaign: schools, university faculties, as well as groups of citizens, employees or radio listeners mobilized to adopt "their" beluga. We hope to encourage such surges of interest with the new web-based platform."
The launch took place at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, itself sponsor of two of the 28 belugas adopted during the first wave of the campaign.
ABOUT THE GREMM'S ST. LAWRENCE BELUGA PROJECT
A consortium of private and university research laboratories has been conducting a research and monitoring program on belugas and the St. Lawrence ecosystem since the early 1980s. The St. Lawrence Beluga Project is being coordinated by the GREMM, a non-profit organization dedicated to research on the whales of the St. Lawrence and marine conservation education.
ABOUT THE ADOPT A BELUGA CAMPAIGN
Adopting a beluga costs $5000 per year and supports research and monitoring efforts of the St. Lawrence belugas. The new web platform gives access to the profiles of belugas that have been adopted or are available for adoption, presents their sponsors and facilitates participation in a collective adoption. News feeds on the St. Lawrence belugas can also be subscribed to at no cost.
SOURCE: Groupe de recherche et d’éducation sur les mammifères marins (GREMM)
For further information: Josiane Cabana, GREMM, 418-514-9574; Paul-Christian Nolin, Press Officer, Office of the Mayor, Québec City, 418 641-6434; Andrée-Anne Toussaint, Press Officer, Office of the Mayor and Executive Board, City of Montréal, 514 243-1268