Beluga Whales

Due to its unique vocalizations, which kind of whale is known as the "canary of the sea?"

And the answer: Beluga whales.  

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Despite having no vocal cords, Beluga whales make a series of chirps, squeals, clicks and trills, which is why they're also known as the "canaries of the sea." They use these sounds for communication, as well as for echolocation.

The Beluga whale is an incredibly sociable, intelligent mammal that inhabits the Arctic and subarctic regions of the ocean. At only 13-15 feet long, the Beluga is much smaller than their other whale relatives, yet they more than make up for it in dexterity and skill. Belugas have the unique ability to move their heads and necks up and down, and side to side. Their bulbous forehead, called a "melon," is flexible and capable of changing shape. This means that they can communicate using facial expressions!

At the top of the food chain, Beluga whales are integral to maintaining the health of the marine environment. Unfortunately, changes in the arctic climate continue to threaten the livelihoods of these fascinating mammals, as well as the Indigenous communities which rely on them for survival.

Beluga whales are playful creatures, and often enjoy interactions with humans. In fact, in 2009, one captive Beluga whale saved a distressed free diver during a competition by pushing her to the surface! Other Belugas have been known to play fetch, push boats, and raise their heads to receive affection from humans.

Learn more about these singers of the sea here.


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