Beluga Whale Facts
- The Beluga Whale, also popular as white whale and Delphinapterus leucas, is an extremely distinctive whale, and an Arctic and sub-Arctic cetacean.
- It also forms one of two members of the family Monodontidae, along with the narwhal, and the only member of the genus Delphinapterus.
- This white whale is also rather famous as melonhead, beluga or sea canary due to its high-pitched twitter.
- In addition, the Delphinapterus leucas adapted to life in the Arctic, so has a number of anatomical and physiological characteristics that differentiate it from other cetaceans.
- Finally, among these remain its unmistakable all-white coloring and the absence of a dorsal fin.
Beluga Whale Physical Description
The body size of the Beluga Whale is between that of a dolphin’s and a true whale’s, with males growing to a length of roughly 18 ft (5.5 m) long and weighing up to 3,500 lbs (1,600 kg).
The white whale also has a stocky body as well as the greatest percentage of blubber. In addition, its sense of hearing is highly developed and thanks to the echolocation, it can move about and find blowholes under sheet ice.
Its body is round, particularly when well fed and tapers less smoothly to the head than the tail. The sudden tapering to the base of its neck gives it the appearance of shoulders, unique among cetaceans.
The tail fin grows and becomes increasingly and ornately curved as the animal ages. The flippers are broad and short, making them almost square-shaped.
It also possesses a distinctive protuberance at the front of its head which houses an echolocation organ called the melon. In this animal, that organ is large and deformable.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Artiodactyla
- Family: Monodontidae
- Genus: Delphinapterus
- Species: D. leucus
Beluga Whale Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The Beluga Whale also remains gregarious and forms groups of up to 10 animals on average. Further, during the summer months, individuals can gather in the hundreds or even thousands in estuaries and shallow coastal areas.
The species evolved as a rather slow swimmer but can dive down to as much as 2,300 ft (700 m) below the surface of the ocean.
Delphinapterus leucas are opportunistic feeders and its diet varies according to the locations and the season. It mainly eats fish, crustaceans and other deep-sea invertebrates.
In addition, the majority of individuals live in the Arctic and the seas and coasts around North America, Russia, and Greenland. Its worldwide population is thought to number around 150,000 individuals.
The animals are migratory and the majority of groups spend the winter around the Arctic ice cap. When the sea ice melts in summer, most move to warmer river estuaries and coastal areas. Some populations are sedentary and do not migrate over great distances during the year.
Unfortunately, the Beluga Whale remains one of the cetaceans most commonly kept in captivity in aquariums and wildlife parks in North America, Europe, and Asia. It remains popular with the public due to its color and expressiveness. We do not approve of anybody keeping wild animals for entertainment.