The beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) is a cetacean that may be found in both the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. In the family Monodontidae, it is the only member of the genus Delphinapterus and one of just two members overall. The other member of this family is the narwhal.
The beluga and the narwhal are the only two members of the Monodontidae family, which means they are closely connected to one another.
What kind of animal is a beluga whale?
Animals Found in Your Own Backyard: Whales, Dolphins & Porpoises Other possible titles: (Delphinapterus leucas) is a tiny toothed whale that is found mostly in the coastal waters of the Arctic Ocean and the seas that are next to it. However, they may also be found in rivers and deep offshore waters.
- Other common names for this whale are white whale, beluga, and belukha.
- Due to the fact that it is a very vociferous species of cetacean, it is sometimes referred to as the “canary of the sea.” This whale is also quite skilled at imitating a wide array of different noises.
- Because it can be captured in relatively shallow water with relative ease, belugas have been maintained in captivity ever since the 1860s.
Their unique coloring and capacity for adaptation have made them a favorite exhibit animal at oceanariums. At birth, belugas are around 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) long, and they grow to be approximately 4 meters (13.2 feet) long (13.1 feet). Calves are born with a gray to brown coloring, but as they grow older, their color gradually fades until they are totally white by the time they reach sexual maturity at four to five years of age.
There is no dorsal fin present in adults, but they have large flippers with tips that curve upward. Because belugas have exceptionally plastic facial features and a rounded forehead, they are able to change the exterior form of their head at whim. Belugas are found in the Arctic and the Antarctic. Female belugas go through menopause, and it is possible that a sizeable amount of their life span, which ranges from 35 to 50 years, is spent in a post-reproductive period.
Britannica Quiz Ultimate Animals Quiz Would you be able to provide the tour in the zoo in your town? This quiz will test your knowledge of several animal species. In the Arctic, beluga whale populations make their home in the pack ice, but when the sea completely freezes over, the whales are forced to migrate to warmer waters.
They often eat on fish, cephalopods, crabs, and worms and reside in groups ranging from five individuals to pods with more than one thousand members. The beluga is sought for its meat in the Arctic, where it is consumed by both people and canines. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was hunted for commercial purposes in order to obtain its oil, flesh, and hides, the latter of which were used to produce industrial leather as well as belts and shoelaces.
The beluga population in the Gulf of St. Lawrence was hunted almost to extinction for its skins, and the survival of other beluga populations is under jeopardy as a result of pollution. The beluga whale and the narwhal are closely related to one another, and the family Monodontidae of the suborder Odontoceti is comprised of the two species together (the toothed whales).
The genus name for the beluga derives from the Greek word for dolphin, which is delphinos, mixed with the word for apteron, which refers to the absence of a dorsal fin in this species. The particular epithet leucas originates from the Ancient Greek word leukos, which may be translated as “white.” The common name, which can also be spelled belukha, originates from the Russian word belyi, which also means “white.” In addition, the great white sturgeon, which is not related to the beluga but is famous for its caviar, is sometimes referred to by the term beluga.
The Members of the Editorial Board of the Encyclopaedia Britannica John P. Rafferty was the one who carried out the most current revisions and updates to this article.
What is the difference between a beluga and a narwhal?
However, in contrast to their more drab-colored relatives, belugas almost always have a pure white coloration. Adult belugas may grow to lengths of around 18 feet, which puts them at a substantial advantage over narwhals (5.5 m). It is interesting to note that the beluga whale is the only species of cetacean (which includes whales and dolphins) that has a neck that can move.
- The beluga’s head can move in all directions, including up and down and side to side.
- The Arctic Ocean and the seas immediately next to it are the only places where beluga whales may be found.
- During the summer, they eat in the shallow waters along the shore, while during the winter, they feed close to the edge of the ice.
While certain populations are known to undertake extensive seasonal migrations, others are considered to be more permanent in their natural environments. They consume several different kinds of fish as well as invertebrate prey. It has been shown that both killer whales and polar bears prey upon and consume beluga whales.
- Scientists believe that belugas may travel further into seas covered in ice in order to escape being hunted by orcas.
- However, they also feel that this puts belugas at a greater danger of being eaten by polar bears.
- When hunting belugas, polar bears make advantage of their extraordinary strength to drag their prey up onto the surface of the ice whenever the belugas come to a hole to breathe.
On rare occasions, belugas can be seen swimming hundreds of kilometers inland, up coastal rivers to places where they are not normally seen. Belugas do not appear to be bothered by being in water that is just a few centimeters deep, which befuddles scientists who are unsure of the motivations behind their forays into freshwater.
In point of fact, it has been documented that several persons have been able to survive being stranded or washed ashore by calmly waiting for the high tide to return. Additionally, belugas are famous for their resounding, crystal-clear calls. They “sing” rather frequently, and their songs may even be heard by persons on boats or on land above the surface of the water.
According to the findings of conservation specialists, the beluga is dangerously close to being extinct. The Arctic environment is undergoing fast change as a direct result of climate change, which is having an effect on the beluga habitat. Additionally, chemical pollution in the Arctic is particularly severe, putting the wellbeing of huge predators like this species at danger.
- Indigenous peoples from all over the Arctic engage in whale hunting in accordance with the law, although it is widely agreed that this practice does not pose a threat to the species as a whole.
- Alterations to the climate and pollution are most likely to be the most serious risks to beluga populations; however, further study is required before reliable forecasts can be established.1.
The length of a beluga whale may reach up to 16 feet (4.8 meters), and on average, they weigh 3,150 pounds (1.4 tons).2. The lifespan of a beluga whale can reach up to 50 years.3. Baby beluga whales have a dark gray coloring, but this fades as they get older, and by the time they reach sexual maturity, they have a white coloration all over their bodies.4.
- The depth to which beluga whales are able to dive is greater than 3,280 feet (1,000 meters), and they may remain under for up to 25 minutes at a time.5.
- Beluga whales are native to the seas of the Arctic, however they have been seen in freshwater rivers on occasion.6.
- During the summer months, beluga whales lose their skin by rubbing themselves against abrasive gravel.1 7.
Unlike other whales, beluga whales do not have fused neck vertebrae, which enables them to move their heads in all directions, including up, down, and side to side.8. Beluga whales have what are known as “melons,” which are enlarged foreheads that are flexible and let them emit sound as well as make facial emotions.9.
Beluga whales are frequently referred to as the “canaries of the sea” due to the fact that they are capable of producing a wide variety of vocalizations, including clicks, whistles, chirps, and squeals.2 Sailors for the Sea is an ocean conservation group that is committed to educating and engaging people all around the world who sail and boat.
Oceana has joined forces with Sailors for the Sea. Kids Environmental Lesson Plans (KELP) is a program that was designed by Sailors for the Sea with the intention of cultivating the next generation of ocean stewards. To download kid-friendly, hands-on activities related to marine science, either click here or below.
What are the characteristics of a beluga?
The beluga has an extremely flexible neck, which allows it to swivel its head in all directions and also allows it to nod its head. The beluga, sometimes known as the white whale, is one of the most diminutive whale species. They are simple to recognize thanks to the unusual hue of their foreheads and their overall appearance.
- The beluga, in contrast to the vast majority of other whales, possesses a very flexible neck that allows it to bob its head and turn its head in any direction.
- The name Beluga is often used.
- Whale The scientific name for this species is Delphinapterus leucas.
- Category: Mammalian Diet: Carnivore Name of the Group: Pod In the wild, the typical lifespan is between 35 and 50 years.
Size: 13 to 20 feet 1 to 1.5 metric tons in weight In most cases, belugas will congregate together in what are referred to as pods. They are noisy communicators and gregarious creatures that use a varied vocabulary that includes clicks, whistles, and clangs.
Additionally, belugas have the ability to mimic a wide array of other noises. Even though they are present in subarctic seas as well, these whales are most frequently seen in the coastal waters of the Arctic Ocean. When the sea freezes over, enormous herds of Arctic belugas go southward toward warmer waters.
Fish, worms, and crustaceans make up the majority of a beluga’s diet. The whale is linked to the narwhal, sometimes known as the “unicorn” whale because of its tusks. The beluga is unrelated to the beluga sturgeon, which is the species that gives its name to the famed caviar that is harvested from the beluga sturgeon.
What do beluga whales eat in Canada?
Facts: The Beluga Whale
The coastal seas of the Arctic Ocean are home to a large population of these whales, although they may also be found in subarctic areas. Their migration patterns are unknown. Population Range and Movements When the sea freezes over, enormous herds of Arctic belugas go southward toward warmer waters.
Animals that become encased in Arctic ice almost always perish, and those that survive may become food for polar bears, killer whales, or even people who live in the Arctic. They are hunted by indigenous people of the north, as well as by commercial fishermen, which have nearly wiped out certain populations, such as those in the Gulf of St.
Lawrence. Fish, crabs, and worms make up the majority of the beluga’s diet. The whale is linked to the narwhal, sometimes known as the “unicorn” whale because of its tusks. The beluga is unrelated to the beluga sturgeon, which is the species that gives its name to the famed caviar that is harvested from the beluga sturgeon.