Beluga whales are playful, social creatures and normally migrate, hunt, and interact in fluid groups of dozens to thousands.
Beluga whales are social creatures and normally migrate, hunt, and interact in groups. They are rarely found alone and aggregate in groups called pods or schools, most often numbering from two to several dozen animals.
Pod structures are fluid and can contain animals of the same sex and age class. They vary in structure and size seasonally, with individuals moving between specific pods. Grouping of pods is still uncertain, but age and sex seem to play a role. Male belugas most often travel in pods of 10-15 that tend to stay away from other groups. Adult females and their calves and juveniles form pods, while adult females without calves also form their own groups. Even older subadult belugas often form their own pods. Additionally, the amount of separation by age and sex between pods may be more distinct at certain times of the year, such as during migrations or selection of different feeding habitats.
Though all living belugas belong to the same species and are generally confined to Arctic regions, they are sometimes further classified by “stocks,” or subpopulations. Stocks vary in population size, with some as small as a few hundred and others perhaps as large as 30,000 animals. The home range size of these animals is unknown.
Belugas constantly vocalize and swim around, over, and under each other. They also play with objects in the water together or by themselves. These objects are not limited to wood, plants, dead fish, and even bubbles that they’ve created.
Sources: (AMMPA, 2014, 2017; Balsiger, 2003; COSEWIC, 2004; Hobbs & Sheldon, 2008; Katona, Rough, & Richardson, 1993; Krasnova, Bel’kovich, & Chernetsky, 2006; Leatherwood, Reeves, Perrin, & Evans, 1982; Loseto, Richard, Stern, Orr, & Ferguson, 2006; Martin, 1996; O’Corry-Crowe, 2002; Paine, 1995; Williams, 2002)