08/22/2014 12:19 pm ET Updated Aug 22, 2014

Watch A Beluga Whale 'Play Peekaboo' With Kids -- Or Is He?

Video of a beluga whale interacting with kids at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut has become quite the talker -- not all of it positive.

The wildly popular clip above shows the whale, named Juno, engaging the children with a series of head darts and open-mouth gestures. At one point he turns away from them and quickly turns back in a "gotcha!' move that makes them squeal.

"He's really just playing with them," Dr. Tracy Romano, the aquarium's chief marine biologist, told CBS. "He's playing peekaboo. Boo! ... The kids getting his reaction is really what's spurring him on to keep doing it."

While many have reacted to the sequence with delight, some said the whale appeared in distress and others expressed dismay at its captivity. "Whales belong in an ocean, not a bathtub for our amusement," one viewer commented on YouTube.

According to the aquarium's website, Mystic received Juno from SeaWorld Orlando in January 2010. "He is usually the one watching the people at the underwater viewing area," his bio reads.



Vancouver Aquarium Beluga Research