Genus: Delphinapterus leucas
Also known as belukha or White Whale
Northern Russia, North America & Greenland. Mainly found around coastal areas, estuaries & pack ice.
10-16 feet long from head to tail; 500 to 1500 kilograms in weight.
Mature Beluga are white, but the young progress from gray/reddish-brown in infancy, to a lighter gray at around two years, then white upon reaching maturity.
Fish, crustaceans, molluscs.
Gestation & Longevity:
14-15 months & 30-40 years, respectively.
Commonly known as the White Whale
, the Beluga is a member of the same family as the Narwhal
, the Monodontidae
Apart from its distinctive colouring, there are a number of other interesting features that set the Beluga apart from the bulk of the other cetaceans
Firstly, the Beluga has a remarkably well-defined neck. Unlike other whales
, the Beluga is capable of turning its head to the side in a near-right angle.
It also lacks a true dorsal
fin, and it's this characteristic that gives the Beluga its scientific name - Delphinapterus
; "dolphin without a wing" - although there is a small ridge that runs along the back.
Beluga are also capable of a wide range of facial movements, thanks to the flexibility of its facial muscles, and some of the expressions seen on these creatures are truly remarkable. This, along with the Beluga's highly developed vocal "language", suggest that there is a subtle & sophisticated social communication between these animals.