By Tom O’Brien
Belugas are also called white whales, and their unusual color makes them one of the most familiar and easily distinguishable of all the whales. Calves are born gray or even brown and only fade to white as they become sexually mature around five years of age.
White whales are smallish, ranging from 13 to 20 feet (4 to 6.1 meters) in length. They have rounded foreheads and no dorsal fin.
Belugas generally live together in small groups known as pods. They are social animals and very vocal communicators that employ a diversified language of clicks, whistles, and clangs. Belugas can also mimic a variety of other sounds.
These whales are common in the Arctic Ocean’s coastal waters, though they are found in subarctic waters as well. Arctic belugas migrate southward in large herds when the sea freezes over. Animals trapped by Arctic ice often die, and they are prey for polar bears, killer whales, and for Arctic people. They are hunted by indigenous people of the north, and by commercial fisheries that brought some populations, such as those in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, to near collapse.
- NEWS: DFO inspectors seize beluga mataaq, meat from seven Nunavik hunters (nunatsiaqonline.ca)
- SeaWorld, other marine parks want to import 18 whales (utsandiego.com)
- Should We Import Belugas for Display? (newswatch.nationalgeographic.com)
- Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy Petitions National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the ‘Taking’ of 18 Wild Beluga Whales from Russia (prweb.com)
- Beluga Whale Mother & Child (mikaartblog.blogspot.com)
- Interview: Samantha Berg on US Gov’s Beluga Whale Importation Hearing (cyberwhalewarrior.com)