Marine Mammal | Beluga Whale | Beluga Whales are also called white whales; though they are born gray or brown, they turn white upon reaching sexual maturity. Their color makes them easy to distinguish from other whales. Beluga Whales are found in the Arctic Ocean and in coastal waters in the subarctic waters. Their migration is dependent on environmental conditions. They range from 13 to 20 feet long and weighs about 2200 pounds. They are social mammals that live and hunt together in small groups. They mainly hunt schools of fish which are abundant in the coastal zone. Beluga Whales have two unusual characteristics, the first they never chew their food as they swallow whole of their food, and the second, they have flexible neck that allows them to turn heads in every direction.
The beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) is an Arctic and sub-arctic whales. Beluga is one of two family members Monodontidae, in collaboration with the narwhal. This marine mammal is commonly referred to simply as the Beluga or Sea Canary due to its strident Twitter. It is up to 5 meters (16 feet) long and an incomparable all-white color with a pronounced hump on the head. From the standpoint of conservation, the Beluga considered "near threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but subpopulations of Cook Inlet in Alaska considered beluga whale critically endangered and is under the protection of United States' Endangered Species Act. Of 7 Canadian beluga populations, 2 are listed as endangered, lives in eastern Hudson Bay and Ungava Bay.
The whale is also colloquially known as the sea canary on account of its high-pitched squeaks, squeals, clucks and whistles. A Japanese researcher says he taught a beluga to "talk" by using these sounds to identify three different objects, offering hope that humans may one day be able to communicate effectively with sea mammals.
Beluga whales have a dorsal ridge, rather than a dorsal fin. The absence of the dorsal fin is reflected in the genus name of the species—apterus the Greek word for "wingless." The evolutionary preference for a dorsal ridge rather than a fin is believed to be an adaptation to under-ice conditions, or possibly as a way of preserving heat. As in other cetaceans, the thyroid gland is relatively large compared to terrestrial mammals (proportionally three times as large as a horse's thyroid) and may help to sustain higher metabolism during the summer estuarine occupations.
In the spring, the beluga moves to its summer grounds: bays, estuaries and other shallow inlets. These summer sites are discontinuous. A mother usually returns to the same site year after year. As its summer homes clog with ice during autumn, the beluga moves away for winter. Most travel in the direction of the advancing icepack and stay close to its edge for the winter months. Others stay under the icepack—surviving by finding ice leads and polynyas (patches of open water in the ice) in which they can surface to breathe. Beluga may also find air pockets trapped under the ice. The beluga's ability to find the thin slivers of open water within a dense ice pack that may cover more than 96% of the surface mystifies scientists. Its echo-location capabilities are highly adapted to the sub-ice sea's peculiar acoustics and it has been suggested that belugas can sense open water through echo-location.
Because of its predictable migration pattern and high concentrations, the white whale has been hunted by indigenous Arctic peoples for centuries. In many areas, hunting continues, and is believed to be sustainable. But in other areas such as Cook Inlet, Ungava Bay, and off West Greenland, left the old people commercial activities in great danger. Whaling continues in these indigenous areas, and some populations continue to decline. These areas are the subject of an intensive dialogue between Inuit communities and national governments is to create a sustainable hunting.
To avoid hunting beluga whales are protected by international moratorium on commercial whaling, but small amounts of beluga whale hunting is allowed yet. Since it is very difficult to know the exact population of beluga whales because their habitats are the ocean interior, it is easy for them to contact with development centers in the oil and gas. To prevent the whales from coming into contact with industrial waste, the governments of Alaska and Canada are the resettlement sites where whales and contact residues.
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