Peekaboo! What we can learn from playful beluga whale


Juno the beluga whale likes to interact with visitors at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut.

CBS News

MYSTIC, Conn. -- Juno the whale has a reputation for watching the people who come to watch him. It happens when he's eating or when visitors walk by his tank.

And it seems he can give as good as he gets -- as demonstrated by a video of him darting playfully at two small children watching him from behind a glass wall. The video was recorded last year, but has been shared more than 400,000 times in the last few days.

Dr. Tracy Romano is the chief marine biologist at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, where Juno shares a 750,000-gallon tank with two other belugas.

When asked what he is doing with the kids, Romano answers: "He's really just playing with them. He's playing peekaboo. Boo! ... The kids getting his reaction is really what's spurring him on to keep doing it."

She explains, "This behavior was not trained in Juno ... Belugas as a species are very social and playful animals."

Beluga antics have gone viral before. There is a viral video from a Chinese aquarium. And the video with Juno has been viewed nearly 4 million times.

But little is known about how belugas process information.

"Intelligence is hard to define. I would say that these whales are highly evolved for adapting to their environment. As far as what they're thinking, we can't say what they're thinking," says Romano.

A mystery about a creature that many have already figured us out.