How to watch thousands of beluga whales migrate through Canadian waters

If you ever wanted a front-row view of thousands of beluga whales, now’s your chance.

Starting today, audiences around the world can check out “Beluga Whale Live Cam” to get an underwater glimpse of the annual migration of more than 57,000 beluga whales as they swim down from the Arctic to the warmer waters near northern Manitoba.

“It’s telling us about their health and their numbers… the arctic ecosystem is an incredible place and so much is going on and so much is changing,” Stephen Petersen, director of conservation and research for Assiniboine Park Conservancy, told CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday.

The main cameras will be set up where the Churchill River meets Hudson Bay. During the summer months, about two-thirds of the world’s beluga population travel here.

The live-streaming event is timed for Arctic Sea Ice Day, which was created by the non-profit organization Polar Bears International to draw attention to the rapid ice loss taking place in the Arctic, which threatens to raise sea levels across Canada and the world.

“We’re really interested in how this ecosystem is changing over time and with changes in sea ice, and the first step is knowing what’s out there,” Petersen said. The decline in sea ice has meant that beluga whales have been forced to dive deeper and longer to find food.

His and other conservation groups have rigged up a series of cameras, including one on the deck of a ship, thanks in part to Explore.org, which bills itself the world’s largest nature live-streaming network.

As families from around the world enjoy watching the whales on their devices, thousands of citizen scientists from are also using the camera footage to gain more insight into belugas, the ecosystem and even discover other new species, such as jellyfish.

“This citizen scientists and this beluga cam have really helped us understand and identify these new species which is really exciting," Petersen said.

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