Belugas often frequent shallow estuaries during the summer. The middle, greyish animal is a calf. Photo: V. Bakken.
Belugas live in cold Arctic waters.
Adult beluga whales grow to lengths of 3–5 m, and can weigh up to 1,500 kg. Males grow slightly larger than females.
One calf every 2–3 years from 7–12 years of age.
Throughout their range belugas inhabit cold Arctic waters, living amongst pack ice, in leads and polynyas in winter and migrating to shallow bays and estuaries of large northern rivers in the summer.
Mainly fish, particularly polar cod (Boreogadus saida) and Arctic cod (Actogadus glacialis). Also northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) and squid in some areas and times.
Latin: Delphinapterus leucas
Greenlandic: Qilalugaq qaqortaq
English: The English name “beluga” comes from the Russian word belukha, which means “white”.
Beluga whales have stout bodies, flexible necks and a disproportionately small head with a well defined beak and a prominent forehead bulge or "melon". They have short but broad paddle-shaped flippers, no dorsal fin, a narrow ridged back and a broad tail fluke with a deeply notched centre. The generic name “delphinapterus”, meaning “dolphin-without-a-wing” reflects the absence of a dorsal fin.
Belugas swimming in ice-choked waters. Note the lack of dorsal fin. Photo M. P. Heide-Jørgensen, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources.
Belugas are social animals and often form large groups. Photo M. P. Heide-Jørgensen, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources.
|Video of belugas being hunted by polar bears at an ice entrapment.|
|Video of belugas in the Gulf of St Lawrence.|
|Belugas are often kept in marine parks, and here is a video of a captive beluga giving birth.|