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Beluga Whale (Delphinapterus leucas)

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.

MML Research Recent MML Beluga Publications
  • SMALL, R. J., B. BROST, M. HOOTEN, M. CASTELLOTE, and J. MONDRAGON. 2017. Potential for spatial displacement of Cook Inlet beluga whales by anthropogenic noise in critical habitat. Endang. Spec. Res. 32: 43-57. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00786  Online.
     
  • CITTA, J. J., P. RICHARD, L. F. LOWRY, G. O'CORRY-CROWE, M. MARCOUX, R. SUYDAM, L. T. QUAKENBUSH, R. C. HOBBS, D. I. LITOVKA, K. J. FROST, T. GRAY, J. ORR, B. TINKER, H. ADERMAN, and M. L. DRUCKENMILLER. 2017. Satellite telemetry reveals population specific winter ranges of beluga whales in the Bering Sea. Mar. Mammal Sci. 33:236-250. https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12357  Online.
     
  • RICHARD, J. T., K. SCHULTZ, C. GOERTZ, R. HOBBS, T. A. ROMANO, and B. L. SARTINI. 2017. Assessing the quantity and downstream performance of DNA isolated from beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) blow samples. Aquat. Mamm. 43:398-408. https://doi.org/10.1578/AM.43.4.2017.398   Online.
     
  • LAIDRE, K., R. HOBBS, and R. FERRERO. 2017. Summer, fall, and early winter behavior of beluga whales, Delphinapterus leucas, satellite-tagged in Cook Inlet, Alaska, in 1999 and 2000. AFSC Processed Rep. 2017-08, 33 p. (K.E.W. Shelden [ed.]). Alaska Fish. Sci. Cent., NOAA, Natl. Mar. Fish. Serv., 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle WA 98115  Online.
     
  • Search the AFSC database for additional Beluga Whale publications
Recent MML Beluga Posters
  • 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
Beluga Whale Stock Assessment Reports
MML Education Web (these pages are targeted toward students!) Management Beluga Whale Images Other links

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