June 2018: Beluga Whale

Scientific Name Delphinapterus leucas
Alternate Name Beluga, Belukha, Calf (Young), Cow (Female), Canary of the Sea, Sea Canary, Whale (Male), White, White Whale
Collective Name Gam, Herd, Mod, Pod, School
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Monodontidae Delphinapterus
Asia, Europe, North America Marine Neritic, Marine Oceanic
500-1,600 kg. 1,100-3,500 lb.
3-5 m. 9-17 ft. 32-40 yr. 16.4 yr. (Generation)
Least Concern Social Diurnal
Polygynous Carnivore
Fore Hind

The beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas,) is the most abundant of the Arctic cetaceans and is the only whale that is completely white. Although they are born gray and gradually fade to white as they age, their signature color defines them, even granting them the nickname, the “white whale.” They are also the most vocal species of cetaceans granting them another name, the “canary of the sea,” as they emit high-pitched sounds that replicate those of birds. With extra thick skin and nearly 50% of their bodies made up of blubber, belugas are made to survive the cold temperatures of the Arctic waters, however, they possess the ability to live in both salt and fresh waters, and migrate to river mouths to deliver offspring and participate in an annual molting of old skin. Listed as “Least Concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, belugas face little risk and their populations number in the thousands.

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