Q: Where are beluga whales found?
SW: Their snow-white color is the first clue to this answer. The beautiful beluga whale is entirely arctic and sub-arctic, making its home in the Arctic Ocean, as well as neighboring seas, including the Sea of Okhotsk, the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, the Beaufort Sea, Baffin Bay, the Hudson Bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Typically belugas live in these areas’ shallow coastal waters, where the water may be barely deep enough to cover their whole bodies. In the summer, they can also be found in warmer-water estuaries and river basins.
Q: Are belugas endangered?
SW: Certain species are. In Alaska, just over 300 beluga whales live in the northern part of Cook Inlet. Unfortunately, this subspecies is listed as endangered due to its small population and lack of recovery from earlier hunting and other threats. Globally the population is only around 100,000, leaving the species on the ICUN Red List as “near threatened.”
Q: What do beluga whales eat?
SW: Beluga whales eat about 100 different types of mainly bottom-dwelling sea animals. A meal for them may be octopus, squid, crabs, snails, sandworms, and fishes such as capelin, cod, herring, smelt and flounder.
Q: What about size, how big do beluga whales get?
SW: Male beluga whales get to be around 11 to 15 feet long (3.4 - 5.5 m) and can weigh up to 3,300 lbs. (1,500 kg). Female belugas will reach closer to 10 to 14 feet (3 - 4.3 m) long and weigh in around 3,000 lbs or less (1,360 kg).