Do you know how amazing belugas are? These white whales that inhabit the Arctic and nearby seas of the Northern Hemisphere are truly terrific.
While humpback whales are famous for their songs, belugas are known for their ability to produce various sounds, like whistles, squeals, clicks, chirps, and moos. This is why they are also lovingly called the “canaries of the sea.”
What makes this ability to produce different sounds more fascinating is that they have “equipment” on their head that focuses and modulates their vocalization: a soft, flexible MELON! This melon also helps the belugas’ natural sonar system to locate prey and other objects in the sea.
And aside from their melon, belugas lack fused neck vertebrae, unlike dolphins and other whales. This enables them to nod and move their cute heads from side to side. Also, instead of a dorsal fin, belugas have a dorsal ridge that helps them in swimming under ice floes.
What makes them survive the extremely cold waters of the Arctic is their blubber, which makes up 40% of their weight. In addition to this, they also have thick skin, which some beluga species shed off in the summertime.
However, just like other whales, the belugas are now an endangered species. There are many threats to their existence, such as pollution, interaction with recreational and commercial fisheries, habitat loss, climate change, oil exploration, and predation from orcas.
In Alaska and in the Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River in Russia, beluga whale populations have already been declared depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This is why more intensive efforts are needed to conserve these marine animals, and among those organizations dedicated to the protection of belugas and their habitats is NOAA Fisheries, which works with scientists and other entities to save these “canaries of the sea.”
Watch this video of a beluga who’s ecstatic after receiving a melon massage!