Thursday, December 16, 2010

Beluga Whale

(Image Source)
Belugas Whales (Delphinapterus leucas) are very iconic whales with their all white adult bodies, short beaks, absent dorsal fins, and large "melon" foreheads. They are found in the waters of the Arctic, and migrate to sub-artic waters to stay away from freezing ice. Belugas can grow to sizes of up to 20ft (6.1m).

Did you know that Beluga Whales are not always white? As calves they are a darker gray color, which gradually lightens as they age. They will reach their full white color by around age 5. Females gestate for 14 months, and a newborn calf can measure 4-6ft (1.4m) long. Calves remain with their mothers for up to two years, and feed off of milk that is 28% fat in order to grow and maintain warmth in the cold waters.

Beluga Pod
Belugas are extremely social creatures. They live in pods that communicate through a variety of whistles, mimics, and clicks. They are also rather unique among Cetaceans in that they have non-fused neck vertebrae, which allows them to turn their heads and even make facial expressions!

Beluga Whales hunt using echolocation, a process that involves sending out clicks that then bounce off potential prey and echo back to the whale. The Beluga's large forehead contains a melon, which helps to amplify and focus these clicks. They feed on fish, worms and crustaceans, and consume 50-60lbs (22.6-27kg) a day.

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