Beluga video: Whales are the new cats

Cute animals rule YouTube—and now cetaceans are getting a turn.


Fruzsina Eördögh


Published Aug 4, 2011   Updated Jun 3, 2021, 3:35 am CDT


Marine creatures are generally underrepresented in viral videos, where furball frolics dominate. But Juno, a beluga whale at the Mystic Aquarium in the Connecticut town of the same name, is set to change all that.  

After bobbing his head in time to music played by the mariachi band Los Trovadores de America at the wedding of Kimberly Mikenis and Kevin Van Aelst, Juno’s rise to Internet celebrity is all but certain.

Footage of Juno’s antics was linked on Reddit, Boing Boing and Huffington Post yesterday, and the video, uploaded onto YouTube by captainkickstand, a wedding guest, on July 16, has received more than half a million views since.    

“That’s it. The Internet has won. We’re done here,” wrote ImEpicToast on YouTube.

“Beluga whale says: I want to eat your Sombrero!” joked fanstard1.

Gushed crazyfanny15, ”Lovee this video!!! It looks like the whale is dancing to the music :)! Im guessing its a Mexican Beluga Whale LMAO :DDD”

Erin Merz, who works for the Mystic Aquarium in public relations, explained to the Daily Dot over the phone that Juno wasn’t dancing to the music per se, as whales can’t hear music like humans can. Juno was “reacting” to the vibrations felt through the tank glass.

As for the head bobbing? When the musicians move their arms or instruments up and down, Juno knows to bob his head, as that’s a trick he learned.

Mertz explained that Juno has learned other imitative behaviors: “If someone turns around, the beluga whale will also turn around.”

Juno is very popular among the Aquarium regulars, Merz said: “He  is the youngest of our whales so I think he is especially curious.”

With all the new media attention, Mertz hopes it will increase aquarium attendance. The whale tank is already a popular spot for wedding ceremonies.  

“Once [the whales] see people, it’s their natural instinct to come check it out—and of course it creates a beautiful backdrop.”

Which means that Juno could prove to be more than a one-trick whale. 

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*First Published: Aug 4, 2011, 5:32 pm CDT