Beluga whales are sociable and vocal mammals. They live, hunt and migrate together in pods, ranging from a few individuals to hundreds of whales. They are one of the most recognized whale species because of their white skin colour and ‘smiling’ upturned mouth. And, did you know they can even swim backwards? While they’re easily recognizable and quite adorable, there’s still a lot of speculation about these whales.
Let’s take a look at some beluga myths and mysteries, and try to set the record straight.
1. Belugas only live underneath the ice
Not true! While many beluga whales live in the Canadian Arctic Ocean, they can also be found down south in the St. Lawrence River.
2. Belugas are always white
Not true. Not all belugas are white. Yes, adult beluga whales are white, and the word beluga comes from the Russian word “bielo” meaning white. However, these white whales are born dark gray. It can take up to eight years before they turn completely white! Sometimes belugas can appear to be stained brown, which is a result of waters with high tannic content.
3. Beluga noises are nonsense
Not true. Belugas use echolocation to help locate their food and to navigate through Arctic waters. Their songs and the wide variety of other calls and vocalisations are also used for communication with other belugas.
4. Belugas are similar to narwhals
Yes, actually the beluga is most closely related to the narwhal and they are the only two members of the Monodontidae family.
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