Scientific Name: Delphinapterus leucas
Facts about Whales
- Facts about Whales
Whale Facts and Information. Feeding, habitat, distribution, reproduction, anatomy and more. Facts about Species like the Blue Whale, Humpback Whale, Sperm whale, Beluga Whale, gray whale, bowhead whale, minke whale, fin whale, narwhal whale and pilo
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Beluga Whale Description
Not everyone out there is familiar with the Beluga Whale as it doesn’t seem to get as much attention as many other species. There are some unique characteristics that it offers though that put it in a category all its own. The biggest one is the coloring of this species as they will turn completely white as they become adults. It is for that reason that the young are often mistaken for another species of whale.
This type of whale has a lifespan in the wild of about 30 years. They are more isolated than other types of whales due to the area where they live. They are also one of the few species of whales that live in the colder waters. If you get the chance to see one in person then I strongly encourage you to do so.
Beluga Whale Anatomy
Due to where they live, the Beluga Whale has more blubber to help keep the body temperature where it needs to be. This gives it a very round body that some people find to be peculiar and out of sync with the rest of their body. Another oddity is that they have a flexible neck which is a feature you won’t find on any other species of whale.
They body of a Beluga Whale is without a dorsal fin. This is so that they have an easier time getting through the icy waters in the Arctic region where they live. They are approximately 15 feet in length with a weight of about 3,000 pounds when they are fully grown. The males are slightly larger than the females.
This species of whale only has one blow hole instead of two. They also have a fluke that is divided in the middle. This helps them to have more control over their movements in the water as well.
Beluga Whale Evolution
What really took place for the Beluga Whale from 50 million years ago until today remains a mystery. There are plenty of ideas, but mostly based upon what we know occurred with other species of whales. They were very likely animals with limbs that could walk on land and go into the very swallow water. However, something occurred that required them to need to live just in the water.
Perhaps one day more information will come to light that can confirm these theories. In the mean time though we have to rely on the pieces of information we do have. They are very vague though and open to interpretation. It is very likely that they were smaller animals than what we know them as today when they did walk on land though.
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Beluga Whale Behavior
When you observe a pod of Beluga Whales you will quickly see that they are extremely social with each other. Each pod can have from just a couple of them to as many as 25. They are a very close group and will do what they can to protect each other. The males take the outer edges with the females inside of them and the pups at the core of the pod.
They do everything as a group including hunting for food and migrating. They have an array of sounds that they use to communicate with each other. These sounds can be heard by people for miles around even though they take place in the water. Researchers are still puzzled about what many of these different sounds really mean for this type of animal.
Beluga Whale Habitat
Many people are completely taken by surprise to learn that the Beluga Whale lives in the regions where the water is cold. In fact, they are often found in waters surrounding Alaska which are known for being extremely icy. They move to warmer waters in the winter though due to the risk of the water freezing and making it hard for them to move freely.
They also need to migrate in order to find enough food and to engage in the mating process. It is amazing to watch them migrate as they will meet with other pods along the way, forming extremely large groups that move together. Since they don’t just live in the ocean you will want to find out what migrational patterns and routes have been identified so that you can have a chance to see them in action.
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Beluga Whale Feeding Habits
These whales will swallow their food in extremely large chunks. They have teeth but only use them for eating when they have killed prey that they need to break down in order to swallow pieces of it. Their diet mainly consists of various types of fish, squid, and octopus. They aren’t picky and will eat any crustaceans they come into contact with as well.
They have to eat a large amount of food each day, so they will take what they can get. They will eat about 3% of their body weight each day so the bigger that a Beluga Whale becomes the more it has to eat on a daily basis.
Beluga Whale Reproduction
As I mentioned, they will reproduce during the migration process. This is so they can mate with those outside of their own pods. Only those that are completely white are able to mate so they will be from 7 to 9 years of age on average. They have one of the longest gestation periods too – about 15 months.
The females will move close to the shore when it is time for her to give birth. This way she can quickly help her offspring to the surface to get air. These pups are about 5 feet long and weight about 100 pounds when they are born. They will be very vulnerable during their first year of life. They will feed off of the milk their mother’s product for at least a year and that process can continue for up to two years.
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Beluga Whale Predators
There aren’t too many predators of the Beluga Whales. Polar bears are a problem though and become more so due to their own problems finding enough food in their environment these days. They often take advantage of the young that are close to the shore. However, polar bears are faster in the water than on land so they can also get them that way too.
Killer Whales are another natural predator of the Beluga Whale. However, the biggest threat to them comes from humans. They have been known to hunt them for both food and for the sport of it. The biggest problem though from humans is that they are polluting the water and that has allowed various types of disease to affect these animals and to cause them to die in large numbers. If this occurs during migration when they all gather it can result in thousands of them dying.
Today they are considered to be an animal that is threatened. While they aren’t yet endangered they are well on their way to being so. There are about 80,000 of them left in the world. Efforts are in place to help save their natural environment though so that they won’t continue to be in more jeopardy of extinction. The fact that it does take so long for them to reproduce is another serious factor that has to be taken into consideration as well.
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