ATLANTA (December 7, 2015) – Georgia Aquarium learned today the necropsy results of Maris, one of Georgia Aquarium’s beloved beluga whales that died suddenly and unexpectedly in October. The findings of the necropsy, or animal autopsy, determined the death was due to acute heart failure.

According to the necropsy, conducted by University of Georgia pathologists and Georgia Aquarium veterinarians, Maris appeared in excellent physical condition at the time of her death.  However, the heart and other tissues examined had microscopic lesions that supported that the cause of death was acute heart failure.

The day of her sudden death, Maris had been eating normally and engaging in enrichment and interaction with Georgia Aquarium’s two other beluga whales, Grayson and Qinu. As part of the routine preventative medicine program Maris received at Georgia Aquarium, she, like all of the animals at the Aquarium, had routine preventative medicine examinations to monitor her health. Earlier in the week of her death, a routine ultrasound, which are performed on all male and female animals to assess their vital organs, detected nothing abnormal. 

“Maris died from acute heart failure of undetermined etiology. No predisposing cause for the heart failure could be determined from the necropsy. An acute disturbance in heart function is suspected as one possible cause. There was also no evidence of infectious disease,” said Dr. Gregory Bossart, senior vice president and chief veterinary officer.

Born in 1994 at the New York Aquarium, Maris arrived at Georgia Aquarium a decade ago, in November of 2005. Georgia Aquarium is still extremely saddened by the loss of Maris and appreciates the support and inspirational memories people have shared during this difficult time. 

For more details on Maris' necropsy results, visit Georgia Aquarium's blog



Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that contains more than 10 million gallons of water and has the largest collection of aquatic animals in North America. Georgia Aquarium’s mission is to be a scientific institution that entertains and educates, features exhibits and programs of the highest standards, and offers engaging and exciting guest experiences that promote the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. Georgia Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. For additional information, visit