Summerside — Nepi, the Maritimes’ favourite young beluga whale, was most recently seen frolicking in his trademark care-free way by a marine diving class in Summerside.
“You could just tell he was such a free spirit,” said Chad Langille, one of the diving students.
“He did a sick underwater flip, and looked me right in the eye. I could tell he was just trying to say ‘Sup, brah?’ Then he rotated towards our instructor and moved his flipper up like he was giving him the finger, and swam off like a total badass.”
Nepi caught the attention of New Brunswickers in 2017 during his first media stunt — when he was caught in the Nepisiguit River and had to be rescued, thus earning his nickname. At the time, rescuers found that Nepi had somehow consumed alcohol and drunkenly stumbled into the river, where he got stuck. It is presumed that he drank some Alexander Keith’s that fell off a fishing boat.
“He was moaning and writhing, but he didn’t once look scared,” recalled Sandra Jardine, one of Nepi’s rescuers. “I will never forget that. He probably had a terrible hangover, but he was still brave the whole time and even smacked one of the volunteers with his tail. It was hilarious, and classic Nepi.”
In 2018 Nepi once again captured the hearts of Atlantic Canadians by swimming in front of an underwater photographer diving by Inverness, Nova Scotia. The photographer filmed him doing cool twirls and flips and completely upstaging the lame other beluga whale in the video.
Marine biologists speculate that in 2019, Nepi will be showing up near Newfoundland to gain even more followers with some new stunt.
“OK, yeah, it’s a little concerning that he’s so comfortable going close to people, because that can be dangerous for marine mammals. But come on, it’s Nepi! You can’t say no to this guy!” admitted Ryan Wade, a marine biologist who teaches at Memorial University.
“Legally we all have to keep a 100-metre distance from marine mammals for their own safety. It sucks, but it’s the law. But if you see Nepi, he’s just going to come straight for you and try to show off. There’s no stopping that guy,” laughed Wade.
“Just don’t give him any Keith’s, or he’ll get really belligerent.”