Unborn Beluga Calf Depicted With Dazzling Clarity In Incredible Sonogram

While there are a lot of feelings that can emerge when you're present for an ultrasound, it's also just fascinating to get a window into something we don't normally see and watch a fetus moving around in real time.

And depending on how its positioned and how far along the pregnancy is, the clarity of what we're looking at can vary a great deal. It's sometimes obvious which part of the little one is which but it's also possible to be totally lost until an experienced health care worker tells you what to look for.

But as we're about to see, there was no guesswork required for the employees of one SeaWorld location.

On January 11, staff at SeaWorld San Antonio announced that a 20-year-old beluga named Luna was pregnant with a calf.

According to Newsweek, this could be Luna's fourth calf and the second she bears within the last five years as she introduced 140-pound Kenai to the world in August of 2016.

And the father, Imaq, seems to have a similarly healthy track record for reproducing.

As Newsweek reported, he was originally brought over from the Vancouver Aquarium before ending up in a productive relationship with 20-year-old Whisper at the Georgia Aquarium last year.

After taking an ultrasound, SeaWorld released the resulting sonogram in a short video posted to Facebook.

Along with showing the clip, the post stated, "We’re very excited to share this news and will be providing around the clock care for mom Luna in anticipation of welcoming this new beluga calf to the SeaWorld family."

And as you'll soon see, the sonogram showed the little one's friendly face with remarkable clarity.

In contrast, we can see from footage released by Chicago's Shedd Aquarium that it's normally hard to identify such a fetus as anything but a football-sized lump.

Be honest, would you have known where this one's head and pectoral flipper are if they hadn't helpfully identified them for us?

As we can see, however, this one is definitely recognizable as a soon-to-be born beluga.

Well, "soon" is a term I'm using I'm using pretty relatively here.

According to Newsweek, the gestation period of a beluga is typically between 14 and 15 months. Although SeaWorld San Antonio has not made any public statements about an estimated birth date, it seems likely that this calf will stay in its mother's womb for a while.

As for how this little one's sonogram turned out so clear, SeaWorld attributes this to its employees' animal husbandry training.

As the business wrote on Facebook, "Through this specialized training, beluga whales are taught to rest comfortably and hold still so they can be examined by our veterinarians."

Given how crucial the first weeks of a whale's development are, SeaWorld staff will be monitoring the calf 24 hours a day and seven days a week after it's born.

As Chris Bellows, the vice president for zoological operations at SeaWorld San Antonio said, "We will be monitoring nursing, respirations and other vital indicators which, thus far, have been positive. Round-the-clock monitoring enables us to record data that will better help us understand beluga calf growth and development."

Good luck to Luna and the crystal clear calf!

h/t: Newsweek, Facebook | SeaWorld San Antonio