Beluga Whales (Delphinapterus leucas), also called white whales, are arctic marine mammals and are one of the smallest species of whales in the world. Their pure white color makes these marine animals easily identifiable. On this page are lists of interesting facts about these arctic creatures including where they live, what they eat, and why they are called Sea Canaries. This information is written for both kids and adults.
Beluga Whale General Facts
Their habitat are the waters of the arctic and sub-Arctic.
They will sometimes migrate to the warmer waters further south than the sub-arctic.
Beluga translates to "white one" in Russian.
This whale's genus Delphinapterus stands for "dolphin without fin" and its species leucas stands for white.
They have a wide diet which includes squid, fish, octopi, and crustaceans. They are opportunistic feeders, eating what prey is available.
These whales generally swim at a speed of 2 - 6 miles per hour (3 to 9 kilometers per hour); however, they can reach speeds up to 14 miles per hour (22 kilometers per hour) in short bursts.
Belugas live for an average of 25 - 30 years.
These marine mammals usually live in groups (called pods) of about 10 whales. The members of a groups will work together to hunt and will migrate together.
These arctic marine animals can dive up to 2,100 feet (640 meters) deep and can stay underwater for approximately 15 minutes.
These animals make a variety of sounds including clicks, whistles, and squeals. The sounds they make are used to communicate with other Belugas and are also part of their echolocation; which involves emitting sound waves that bounce back to the whale enabling it to hunt, navigate in the dark, and find holes in the arctic sheets of ice in order to obtain air.
Female Belugas usually give birth to one calf. Calves are not born white, as they mature they change in color ranging from brown, gray, and blue. They eventually lose all color and become white at around six years of age.
Predators of Beluga Whales, especially the young, include orcas and polar bears. People have historically hunted these whales and a few arctic tribes still hunt them.
Their total population is believed to be approximately 150,000. They are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List; classified as "near threatened".
Beluga Whale Nicknames
The Beluga Whale has several nicknames which are listed below
Squid Hound - due to their appetite for squid
Sea Canary - due to the high-pitched sounds they make
Beluga Whale Description
Adult Beluga Whales are white.
These mammals have a stout body, a small round head, small flippers, and a wide tail.
Unlike dolphins and sharks the Beluga has no dorsal fin (back fin). The lack of this fin makes it easier for them to swim under the arctic ice sheets.
Adult male Beluga Whales are about 15 feet (4.6 meters) long.
Adult males of this species can weigh up to 3,300 pounds (1500 kilograms). Females are slightly smaller than males.
This animal stands out from other cetaceans like dolphins, narwhals, humpback whales, and blue whales in the fact that the vertebrae in its neck are not fused; this give its neck flexibility.
Like all whales this whale has one blowhole which is used to breathe.
The Beluga has a thick layer of blubber protecting its body from the freezing arctic water.
These whales have 34 teeth which they use to grab onto their prey which they swallow whole without chewing.