Beluga whales live in and near the cold waters of the Arctic and Subarctic regions around the globe. There are 5 Beluga groups in Alaska, 4 of them have overlapping territories. Cook Inlet whales are unique in that they stay resident here and do not interaction with other groups.
After a decline in population of about half in the 1990’s, for reasons not well understood, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated this group as Depleted. They are protected from hunting, except by natives, under the Marine Mammal Protections Act of 1972. It is also illegal to harass whales, and there is a reward for turning in anyone who harasses or kills one.
They are the only whale that can swing their neck side to side, and they can move their mouth in such a way to appear to have expressions, which may be a form of communication. They lack a dorsal fin, which would inhibit their swimming under ice to locate a breathing hole. They have a prominent melon on their forehead, which is composed of fat and is related to sound production.
Belugas use echo location (emitting sound and receiving sound waves that bounce off objects) to navigate and identify and discern prey, and their audible clicks whistles and other sounds make up the largest communication vocabulary of any whales. They have been called canneries of the sea for their sounds, which include whistles, squeals, clucks, mews, chips, trills and bell-like tones.
Belugas prey on about 100 different kinds of animals, mostly bottom dwellers, such as octopus, squid, crabs, shrimp, clams, cod herring and flounder. They also hunt schooling fish such as the salmon they chase on the incoming tide. The hunt in groups of up to 12, and herd the fish before attacking. They have about 34-40 pointed teeth in two rows, which are made not for chewing, but for catching and tearing prey, which they swallow whole.
A baby (calf) Beluga waves its tail in the air while doing antics with another calf.
An adult whale pair surfaces, While moving and feeding they seldom lift their head enough to see their face.
Whale watchers gather to see the pod as they swim along very near the shore and follow the salmon on the in tide.
Diversity is a word you hear thrown out by bureaucrats in government and corporate America. There is no policy, law or regulation that will ever bring people together in such diversity as the simple and honest beauty and majesty of gentle creatures like these whales.
This first video slide show I put together with some of my recent photographs and an audio clip I found on the internet.
I found this video also on You Tube and it shows the Beluga Whale’s face and gentle social nature in an aquarium environment.