Mammals of Alaska Week: Beluga Whale (Delphinapterus leucas)
The beluga whale lives throughout the arctic waters of the world. It’s gray when it’s born and gets lighter until it’s five or six, at which point it’s completely white. Belugas have been called sea canaries because of their elaborate echolocations and vocalizations. Overall, they’re doing pretty well, population-wise, but some subpopulations are threatened, generally by hunting, climate change, habitat loss, or sea traffic.
The melon-like bulge on the top of the beluga whale’s head is called a melon! According to the American Cetacean Society, “The rounded melon on its head contains oil, and the whale can change the shape of the melon. Scientists believe that the melon plays a part in the beluga’s echolocation system.”
You can listen to the beluga whale’s many different sounds at this page on the National Geographic website, and you can listen to Raffi’s wonderful song “Baby Beluga” on his MySpace page (highly recommended!). “Baby beluga in the deep blue sea, swim so wild and you swim so free. Heaven above you and the sea below, and a little white whale on the go…”