Adult beluga whales are easily distinguished by their pure white skin, their small size and their lack of dorsal fin. The beluga has a broad and rounded head and a large forehead. Belugas are toothed whales. They have broad, paddle-like flippers and notched tails. The Cook Inlet beluga whale is a small, isolated subspecies of the beluga whale currently facing critical threats.
Beluga whales eat whatever fish species are most common including salmon, eulachon, tomcod, smelt, char, rainbow sole, whitefish, saffron and arctic cod, herring, shrimp, mussels and octopus.
Though the global population of belugas is around 100,000, the Cook Inlet population consists of just over 300 animals.
Globally, belugas are found mostly in Arctic and sub arctic waters, as well as in the Cook Inlet and the St. Lawrence River.
Did You Know?
Beluga whales exhibit a wide range of vocalizations including clicks, squeaks, whistles, squawks and a bell-like clang.
Belugas forage for food on the seabed. This typically takes place at depths of up to 1,000 feet, but they can dive to at least twice this depth. Belugas congregate and travel in groups from 2-3 to as many as several hundred. Some are migratory within their limited range while others remain residents of a particular area. They are found close to shore or in the open sea. During the summer months in some areas they gather in the estuaries of rivers to feed and calve.
Mating Season: Late winter-early spring.
Gestation: 15 months.
Number of offspring: 1 calf.
Young belugas are uniformly dark grey in colour. The grey steadily lightens as they grow up - reaching their distinctive pure white color by the age of seven for females and nine for males. Calves nurse for about two years.