Wildlife Fact Sheets

Beluga Whale

beluga_whale

Beluga Whale

Delphinapterus leucas

  • Life Span
    35 - 50 years
  • Habitat
    You can find me in the chilly waters of the Arctic and subarctic. I migrate south to the subarctic when Arctic waters freeze over, and return north when the ice breaks up in the spring.
  • Range
    My family and I can be found off Russia, Canada, Greenland, Norway and the United States.
  • Preferred Food
    I’ll eat pretty much anything, including invertebrates like crabs, snails, octopi and mussels, as well as fish like salmon, char, smelt, arctic cod and herring.

About

Known for my distinctive white color, I live in the chilly waters of the Arctic and subarctic. Unlike other whale species, the bones in my neck aren’t fused together so I can move my head up, down and side to side. I can even make different facial expressions—just like humans!

I’m incredibly well adapted to the Arctic environment—a five-inch-thick layer of blubber and dorsal ridge help me navigate through the harsh icy waters. To find food, I look for fish and invertebrates in the water column and on the seafloor. I’m a good swimmer too—I can dive for 25 minutes to depths up to 800 meters.

Did You Know?

The word “beluga” comes from the word “bielo” which means white in Russian. We’re actually born dark gray—it can take up to eight years before we turn all the way white!

Status and Conservation

I’m an extremely social animal. I like to gather in groups called pods, which can range from just a few of my closest friends to hundreds of whales! I enjoy being very vocal—by using a series of squeaks, clicks and whistles to communicate with my friends, find food and figure out where I am under water. If you can’t hear me, don’t worry; some of my noises are at a low frequency that humans can’t hear.

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