Beluga Whale

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Beluga whales are the most abundant of arctic cetaceans and inhabit 8-10°C inlets, fjords, channels, bays, and shallow waters.

The beluga whale is the most abundant of arctic cetaceans.

The usual habitat of belugas includes inlets, fjords, channels, bays, and the shallow waters of the Arctic seas that are warmed by continuous sunlight. These waters are usually 8 to 10 degrees Celsius (46-50 degrees Fahrenheit,) but can range from 0 to 16 degrees Celsius (32-60 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Some waters are so cold that when a beluga rests at the surface, the water freezes and forms an ice dome molded by the beluga’s back. These domes then remain intact when the whale swims away. Belugas are extremely comfortable among sea ice. Satellite-tagged belugas have traveled from the northwest coast of Alaska north through sea ice concentrations of almost 100%.

Sources: (AMMPA, 2014, 2017; Leatherwood, Reeves, Perrin, & Evans, 1982; Lentfer, 1988; Paine, 1995; Suydam, Lowry, Frost, O’corry-Crowe, & Pikok, 2001; Williams, 2002)
Image: Lynn D. Rosentrater

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