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
- SHELDEN, K. E. W., and B. A. MAHONEY.
2016. Aerial surveys of beluga whales in Cook Inlet, Alaska, June 1991. AFSC Processed Rep. 2016-02, 22 p. Alaska Fish. Sci. Cent., NOAA, Natl. Mar. Fish. Serv., 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle WA 98115. (.pdf, 3.2 MB). Online.
- LUCEY, W. G., E. HENNIGER, E. ABRAHAM, G. O'CORRY-CROWE, K. M. STAFFORD, and M. CASTELLOTE.
2015. Traditional knowledge and historical and opportunistic sightings of beluga whales, Delphinapterus leucas, in Yakutat Bay, Alaska, 1938-2013. Mar. Fish. Rev. 77(1):41-46. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.7755/MFR.77.1.4. (.pdf, 705 KB). Online.
- HOWE, M., M. CASTELLOTE, C. GARNER, P. McKEE, R. J. SMALL, and R. HOBBS.
2015. Beluga, Delphinapterus leucas, ethogram: a tool for Cook Inlet beluga conservation? Mar. Fish. Rev. 77(1):32-40. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.7755/MFR.77.1.3. (.pdf, 542 KB). Online.
- HOBBS, R. C., K. E. W. SHELDEN, D. J. RUGH, C. L. SIMS, and J. M. WAITE.
2015. Estimated abundance and trend in aerial counts of beluga whales, Delphinapterus leucas, in Cook Inlet, Alaska, 1994-2012. Mar. Fish. Rev. 77(1):11-31. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.7755/MFR.77.1.2. (.pdf, 1.3 MB). Online.
- Search the AFSC database for additional Beluga Whale publications
- Beluga Whale (Delphinapterus leucas) Vocalizations From the Eastern Beaufort Sea Population
4.01 MB Online.
- Acoustic Monitoring and Prey Association for Beluga and Harbor Porpoise off Two River Mouths in Yakutat Bay, Alaska
962 KB Online.
- Spatio-temporal Changes in Beluga Whale, Delphinapterus leucas, Distribution: Results from Aerial Surveys (1977-2012), Opportunistic Sightings (1975-2012), and Satellite Tagging (1999-2003) in Cook Inlet, Alaska
1.54 MB Online.
- Search the AFSC database for additional Beluga Whale posters