Are Beluga Whales Friendly? (2022 Update)

“Baby beluga in the deep blue seas, swim so wild and swim so free.” Have you ever heard that famous “Baby Beluga” song? Learn more about the real-life animal that inspired that classic children’s song.  

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Are beluga whales friendly? 

Beluga whales are indeed very friendly animals! These creatures are very social, and they love being with their family and friends, just like us. Belugas like to make friends and socialize with other belugas both inside and outside their family group. Research even shows that beluga whales form communities similar to humans and make complete social networks, support structures, and even cultures with other whales.  

Belugas usually live in small family groups called pods. In these pods, they will communicate with each other with various sounds like clicks, whistles, and clangs.

They are very social and love being with their family, as well as other belugas. Sometimes a pod of belugas can have hundreds to thousands of whales in it! 

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Are beluga whales dangerous to people? 

Beluga whales are wild animals, so they can be dangerous to people. That is because they are very strong, big, and powerful creatures.

Belugas do not hunt people, and they would not eat a human, but they will defend themselves against humans if they feel threatened. A person would have to purposely do something unwise or illegal to the beluga for them to attack.  

Why do beluga whales have such big foreheads? 

Belugas are known for the large bump on their forehead, which is known as a “melon.” The melon is actually used by the beluga to make different communication sounds and facial expressions.

The melon also helps the beluga with their echolocation. Yes, you heard that right: belugas, like bats, use echolocation! They make a rapid string of clicking sounds that bounces off the environment and nearby objects, which helps the whales to identify and locate objects such as food.  

Are Beluga Whales Friendly?
Are Beluga Whales Friendly?

What do beluga whales eat? 

Beluga whales have a varied diet, including clams, crabs, cod, flounder, herring, octopus, salmon, shrimp, snails, and squid. 

What are the beluga whales’ predators? 

The two main predators of beluga whales are killer whales and polar bears. Scientists believe that beluga whales will swim far into the ice-covered waters in order to avoid being hunted by killer whales, but then that puts them at a bigger risk of being attacked by a polar bear that hunts on the ice. 

Humans also hunt belugas. People who live in the Inuit communities will occasionally hunt these whales. They eat the whale meat and then use the skin and blubber to make muktuk.

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These people say that hunting the wildlife is their way of survival, but scientists and wildlife experts warn against this because belugas are classified as near-threatened species.  

Where do beluga whales live? 

Beluga whales can be found in the Arctic Ocean and its nearby seas in the Northern Hemisphere. They are seen along the coastlines of Alaska, Russia, Canada, and Greenland.

They live in shallow coastal waters in the summer, which are often not even deep enough to cover their bodies. In the winter months, they swim to deeper waters and swim among the ice floes. 

How big do beluga whales get? 

Belugas are one of the smallest whale species. Males usually grow to be about 13 to 20 feet long and weigh somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 pounds. To put that in perspective, the largest whale, the Antarctic blue whale, is the largest animal in the world.

They can grow to be about 98 feet long and weigh up to 400,000 pounds! For the beluga whale, about 40% of their body weight is blubber. 

Silly beluga whale with his mouth open
Silly beluga whale with his mouth open

What is blubber? 

Blubber is the thick layer that insulates the beluga whale’s body. The thickness of the blubber varies by season, but it is usually about 4 inches thick. The thickest amount of blubber ever recorded on a beluga whale was over 10 inches!

The beluga whale’s blubber is this animal’s greatest adaptation for living up in the freezing Arctic waters.  

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Who are beluga whales most closely related to? 

Beluga whales are one of two members of the Monodontidae family. The other member of this family is the narwhal. Instead of having a melon, the narwhal has a tusk “unicorn horn” on its forehead. They use this tusk to stun prey which makes it easier for them to consume it.  

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