Beluga whales are distributed throughout seasonally ice-covered arctic and subarctic waters of the Northern Hemisphere and are closely associated with open leads in ice-covered regions. Depending on season and region, beluga whales may occur in both offshore and coastal waters, with concentrations in Cook Inlet, Bristol Bay, Norton Sound, Kasegaluk Lagoon, and the Mackenzie Delta. It is assumed that most beluga whales from these summering areas over winter in the Bering Sea, excluding those found in the northern Gulf of Alaska. Seasonal distribution is affected by ice cover, tidal conditions, access to prey, temperature, and human interaction. During the winter, beluga whales occur in offshore waters associated with pack ice. In the spring, they migrate to warmer coastal estuaries, bays, and rivers for molting and calving. Annual migrations may cover thousands of kilometers. Belugas grow as long as 4.5 m and weigh up to 1500kg. Calves are born in the summer and remain with their mothers for about 24 months. They are slate gray to pinkish brown at birth but become completely white by the time they are adults.
- NOAA's Annual Survey of Cook Inlet Belugas Finds Population at Second-Lowest Level
- 2008 Supplemental Status Review and Extinction Assessment of Cook Inlet Belugas (Delphinapterus leucas)
- Current Research Projects by the Cetacean Assessment & Ecology Program
- Quarterly Reports
- International Polar Year: Pan-Arctic tracking of beluga whales
- Beluga Whale Tagging in Cook Inlet, Alaska, 1999-2003
- EZER, T., J. R. ASHFORD, C. M. JONES, B. A. MAHONEY, and R. C. HOBBS.
2013. Physical-biological interactions in a subarctic estuary: How do environmental and physical factors impact the movement and survival of beluga whales in Cook Inlet, Alaska? J. Mar. Syst. 111:120-129.
- HOBBS, R., C. SIMS, K. SHELDEN, L. VATE BRATTSTROM, and D. RUGH.
2012. Annual calf indices for beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in Cook Inlet, Alaska, 2006-2010. AFSC Processed Rep. 2012-05, 29 p. Alaska Fish. Sci. Cent., NOAA, Natl. Mar. Fish. Serv., 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle WA 98115. (.pdf, 868 KB) Online.
- NORMAN, S. A., C. E. C. GOERTZ, K. A. BUREK, L. T. QUAKENBUSH, L. A. CORNICK, T. A. ROMANO, T. SPOON, W. MILLER, L. A. BECKETT, and R. C. HOBBS.
2012. Seasonal hematology and serum chemistry of wild beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in Bristol Bay, Alaska, USA. J. Wildl. Dis. 48(1):21-32.
- GOETZ, K. T., P. W. ROBINSON, R. C. HOBBS, K. L. LAIDRE, L. A. HUCKSTADT, and K. E. W. SHELDEN.
2012. Movement and dive behavior of beluga whales in Cook Inlet, Alaska. AFSC Processed Rep. 2012-03,40 p. Alaska Fish. Sci. Cent., NOAA, Natl. Mar. Fish. Serv., 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle WA 98115. (.pdf, 2.8 MB) Online.
- Search the AFSC database for additional Beluga Whale publications
- Spatio-temporal Distribution of Alaskan Beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) Populations Based on Acoustic Monitoring
11.9 MB Online.
- Acoustic Monitoring of Belugas in Eagle River, Cook Inlet
9.26 MB Online.
- First Description of Beluga Hearing in the Wild
8.81 MB Online.
- Search the AFSC database for additional Beluga Whale posters