Beluga whale (Delphinapterus Leucas) is one of the only two species of whale from the family of Monodontidae. The other whale in this family is narwhale. It is an arctic aquatic mammal. It is a highly social mammal and tends to cooperate with each other. It also makes a lot of sounds to be in touch with others.
Belugas are easily recognizable due to their all-white appearance. They have round-shaped foreheads and lack dorsal fin. They have short and wide flippers. Belugas have cone-shaped and stubby body. There are about 40 teeth in its jaws but they do not play any role in chewing the meal. Beluga whale has one spiracle on the back of its head, which is protected through muscular layer. Calves have light-to-dark gray color that disappears with time.
Beluga has bio sonar within its head called melon which is why its forehead is protruded. Normally, they tend to form pods (group name) of 10 individuals but during summer, they often huddle together in thousands off coastal waters. All toothed whales have melon which is used for echolocation but beluga’s melon is very obvious and pliable i.e. it changes shape as beluga makes different sounds.
It can grow to a size range of 13 to 20 feet and weighs more than 3,000 pounds. It grows up to a maximum size at the age of 10 years. At birth, the size of an offspring is 4.9 feet and weighs 180 pounds.
On average, it has a lifespan of 35 to 50 years.
Male belugas become mature at the age of 4 to 7 years while the females mature between 4 and 9 years. A female produces newborns once after every three years. Breeding occurs between February and May.
Belugas are found off coastal waters of Arctic and subarctic ocean.
Typically, belugas readily feed on fish like Pacific Salmon, flounder, smelt, capelin, herring and sole. They are also found to eat creatures like sea snails, octopuses, crabs and squid.
Beluga whales seem to be curious about humans. They tend to play around with different objects in water including boats.
These mammals are slow-swimmers and sail at a speed of 1.9 to 5.6 mph. Belugas can also swim backwards. Humans can hear sounds up to 20 kHz. But belugas can hear as far as 120 kHz.
Orcas and polar bears are the main predators of beluga whales. But there is an even bigger threat: humans.
Other names: White whale, Sea canary, Melonhead, Beluga