Skip to main content

Qila, a beluga at the Vancouver Aquarium, is prepared for an ultrasound on April 14, 2014. The Aquarium has announced that the 21-year-old whale has died.John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

The first beluga whale born in captivity in Canada has died at the Vancouver Aquarium.

The facility said 21-year-old Qila's sudden death Monday has left her mother Aurora adjusting to the change.

"We will miss her immensely," the aquarium said in a statement.

A spokeswoman said a necropsy was expected to be done Monday.

Qila was Aurora's first offspring in 1995, before two other calves came along.

A male named Tuvaq was born in 2002 and died in 2005. In 2009, a female named Nala was born but died a year later from an apparent infection.

An examination later found a pocket in the whale's larynx contained two stones and a penny.

Qila became a mother herself in June 2008, when she gave birth to a female calf named Tiqa, who died three years later of pneumonia.

The aquarium said Aurora and Qila contributed to its studies on vocalizations, called contact calls, between beluga whale mothers and calves.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada said the average lifespan of a beluga is 15 years, with some animals reaching up to 50 years.

Interact with The Globe