Beluga Whale

Page - May 31, 2007

Beluga Whale

Estimated Population: 62,000-85,000 worldwide, Cook Inlet population considered depleted.

Ways to identify this species: toothed whale, small head, adults have white skin, babies appear gray.


Biology

  • Migratory, beluga whales inhabit the Arctic and sub-arctic regions of Russia, Greenland, and North America and travel to warmer waters for spring. Populations in Cook Inlet, Alaska do not migrate.
  • Adult males range from 11-15 feet in length and weigh up to a ton.  To preserve body heat in chilly arctic waters, the beluga's blubber can be up to 5 inches thick.
  • The beluga's dorsal fin is only a bump; a larger fin would get in the way as the whale breaks through the ice to breathe.
  • Beluga whales produce a variety of sounds including whistles, squeals, moos, chirps, and clicks.  They are very social animals who hunt, migrate and live in pods numbering into the hundreds.



Threats

  • Because belugas prefer to live in Coastal Waters, they are threatened by human pollution and the risk of entanglement in fishing nets.
  • This species was hunted during the 18th and 19th century

Topics