Beluga whale Facts

Beluga whale Facts
Beluga whale is the smallest whale on the planet. It lives in coastal waters of Arctic Ocean and in the subarctic regions. When temperature of water drops significantly (and ice starts to form), belugas migrate toward the south, where the water is warmer. Due to commercial fishing of belugas for their meat and skin, some populations of belugas are eliminated almost completely. Other threats for the survival of belugas are pollution of the ocean, climate changes (sudden freezing of the water or increase in water temperature) and oil spills. Belugas are listed as threatened species (almost endangered) because of all these factors.
Interesting Beluga whale Facts:
Belugas are the smallest of all whales. They look like large dolphins, reaching 13 to 20 feet in length and 2000 to 3000 pounds of weight.
Belugas are easily recognized by the white color of their skin and bulbous forehead (called "melon"). They can change the shape of the forehead by blowing the air through the sinuses in the head.
Like in other mammals, surface of the beluga's skin is covered with hairs.
Beluga's heart weighs 12 pounds. Few years ago, one beluga saved distressed participant in the free-diving competition by pushing it back to the surface of the water to grab much needed air. This humane act showed that belugas are truly big-hearted animals.
Vertebrae in the beluga's neck are not fused, which allow animal to rotate its head freely and move it in all directions.
Belugas do not have dorsal fin as an adaptation to the life in very cold waters. Since every part of the beluga's body radiates heat to the environment, elimination of the fin helps in preservation of at least part of the heat. Instead of dorsal fin, belugas has dorsal ridge.
Another adaptation to the life in freezing water is thick layer of blubber (3.9. to 5.9 inches) and thick skin. Their skin was used in the manufacture of first types of bulletproof vests.
Beluga can stay 25 minutes under the water (without reaching the surface for air), and dive to the depth of 0.5 miles.
Belugas are social animals. They live in groups called "pods".
Belugas are very vocal animals. They use wide range of sounds, such as clicks, whistles and clangs, in communication. Belugas can also mimic other sounds they hear. Because of the loud noise they produce, belugas are also known as the "canaries of the sea".
Belugas are carnivores (meat eaters) which like to eat shrimps, fish and sea worms.
When water freeze suddenly, animals end-up trapped in the ice and die. Besides that, belugas are often preyed by polar bears and killer whales.
Although belugas are known by their white skin, they are grey, brown or black in color at birth. Their skin starts fading after couple of years, when they reach sexual maturity (between 5 and 8 years).
Belugas are born in estuaries (places where river meets the ocean) which are muddy. Dark color of the baby beluga helps it hide from the predators and survive the early years of its life. Young beluga is closely associated with its mother and it rides on her back while moving through the water.
Average lifespan of beluga in the wild is between 35 to 50 years.

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