Of the world’s 22 existing beluga whale populations, seven have been identified in Canadian waters. We have supported Arctic beluga satellite research, as well as community-based projects monitoring beluga health, and we are supporting research to better understand the impacts of ocean noise on their populations. Every year, more than 50,000 belugas leave the waters of the Arctic in the spring to swim in Canada’s Hudson Bay. Depending on the area and environment the whale is in some beluga whales will make seasonal migration trips while others will only travel within a … Charitable Registration Number #119304954 RR 0001. southwest to coastal areas of the Bering Sea in the winter. Where Do Whales Live? They occur in the St. Lawrence estuary, Hudson’s Bay and the Arctic Ocean. WWF-Canada is working to help identify critical beluga habitat in the Arctic and the St. Lawrence Estuary and Gulf. WWF is collecting postal codes so we can send you news and invitations most relevant to your area. The stressors beluga whales face at the southern portion of their range, including toxic pollution, are an early warning of what could come to northern belugas. Beluga whales are widely distributed in the Arctic and sub-Arctic waters. The armchair traveler can witness the secret society of beluga whales on Explore.org, which floats a live underwater camera through the bay every day … They are common to many regions of Alaska, as well as Russia, Canada, and Greenland. We have also supported work on St. Lawrence Estuary belugas through our Endangered Species Recovery Fund and founded a recovery team for the St. Lawrence population. The Yukon River (Canada/US), Yenisei (Asia), St. Lawrence (Canada), and Kuskokwim (Alaska) are some of the rivers known to be traversed by beluga whales. Some beluga populations make seasonal migrations while others remain in a relatively small area year-round. A beluga's head can move head side to side because its neck vertebrae are not fused like other whales. Prince of Wales Fort, built in the mid 1700's by the Hudson Bay Company, sits just across the river, a solid reminder of the fur trade which first put Churchill on the map. From June to September, approximately 3,000 of these uniquely white-coloured whales visit the Churchill River basin and approximately 60,000 come … At birth these pale whales aren’t white at all – they’re slate grey, and it can take up to eight years to develop their distinct white colour. Churchill, Manitoba in Canada. They are unique among whales because they have very flexible necks and can move their head in almost any direction, separately from their Environmental conditions determine migration behavior. Donate Adult males range from 13 to 20 feet (4 to 6.1 meters) in length and weigh 2,000 to 3,000 lbs. Like polar bears, the beluga depends on sea ice for its existence and can be directly impacted by climate change. It is also known as the white whale, as it is the only cetacean of this colour; the sea canary, due to its high-pitched calls; and the melonhead, though that more commonly refers to the melon-headed whale, which is an oceanic dolphin. Login to your WWF-Canada supporter centre. (907 to 1,361 kilograms), according to National Geographic. Females are slightly smaller in size than males. A beluga whale sanctuary in Nova Scotia is in the works and would be a retirement home for the whales. Arctic belugas migrate southward in large herds when the sea freezes over. Help protect threatened species and their habitats. Belugas migrate to specific feeding, moulting and nursing areas every year. Every summer, about 57,000 beluga whales travel from the Arctic to the Churchill River in Manitoba. We are working to address the effects of climate change by advocating for a shift to a 100 per cent renewable-energy economy by 2050 and ensuring belugas have the resources they need to adapt to life on a changing planet. Beluga whale live mainly in Arctic waters but there is an isolated population in the St. Lawrence Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. Beluga whales live in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere in cold Arctic and sub-Arctic waters. Then the orbs come into focus, revealing some of the more than 3,000 beluga whales that gather in the waters in and around Hudson Bay each summer. Thousands of years of evolution have prepared Arctic species like the beluga for life on and around the sea ice. Beluga whales occupy northern waters, including those of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia. -- A young beluga whale appears to have taken a liking to a small Newfoundland village, where some residents have made of habit of patting its head and rubbing its belly. The most southern group lives in the St. Lawrence estuary in Quebec. Northern beluga habitat is more pristine but is undergoing rapid change and development. Like many other whales, belugas use echolocation to communicate with each other, hunt prey, and orient themselves in the vast ocean. Seismic explorations and intense commercial shipping are causing noise pollution that likely has a major impact on belugas’ ability to communicate, detect predators, find food, and care for their young. Meet the Beluga. The live cam is sitting on the Beluga Boat wandering the … A few small populations are found farther south, relics from the last ice age, including the St. Lawrence Estuary belugas. Beluga whales live entirely in the Arctic and sub-Arctic. Belugas can adapt to a varied range of habitats but prefer shallow waters along the coast. Some populations have decided to put down roots and are resident in one particular area, for example the Cook Inlet in Alaska where unfortunately their numbers are in decline and they are now recognised as being ‘Critically Endangered’. Beluga Whale Facts: Introduction. Up to 4.5 metres (females are up to 80 per cent the length of males). Belugas are extremely sociable mammals that live, hunt and migrate together in pods, ranging from a few individuals to hundreds of whales. The others live around Baffin Island, Hudson Bay and in the Beaufort Sea. WWF-Canada also completed an oil spill trajectory modelling project to show how multiple oil spills in the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea could affect local wildlife, including belugas. I… Let us know what you'd like to hear more about. A beluga whale also has a small beak, lacks a dorsal fin, and has short flippers. Beluga whales are easily identifiable by their white color and the round bump on their forehead, known as a melon. Your donation will help support WWF-Canada’s work in the Arctic. Under current evaluation it does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable , but could likely qualify for a threatened category in the near future. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) was asked to conduct a science based review of the effectiveness of the current management and recovery actions for three at-risk whale populations: the Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW), the North Atlantic Right Whale (NARW) and the St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga (SLE Beluga). Relative to other whale species, belugas have long, distinct necks and unfused neck vertebrae, which contribute to their flexibility and diverse swimming movements. Other threats, particularly to the St. Lawrence beluga population, include contamination by toxic chemicals, and a reduction in the abundance, quality, and availability of prey. WWF-Canada is working to help identify and protect critical habitat for belugas. Near Threatened © All photos, graphics and images on this site remain the copyright of WWF, unless otherwise noted, and should not be downloaded without prior permission. For further insight into beluga whales, viewers can tune into live chats that are happening in July and August via PBI's Facebook page, and participate in the Beluga Bits community science project. There are approximately 70,000 worldwide and about 650 of these live in a small region of the St Lawrence Estuary in Quebec. Located on the shores of Hudson Bay, the Town of Churchill and the surrounding area are steeped in history as old as Canada. While in coastal regions, belugas prefer canals, bays, fjords, coves, and the shallow water of the Arctic Ocean that is continuously in sunlight. We are working with Inuit organizations, scientists, governments and environmental organizations to ensure that all new industrial activities are planned carefully, so that populations remain healthy in a rapidly changing marine ecosystem. Beluga whales are easy to spot, thanks to their white colour, large size and bulging forehead. Most beluga whales migrate south as the ice pack advances in the autumn. In the province of Québec, beluga whales, minke whales, blue whales, humpback whales and sperm whales frolic in this special place. The beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) is an Arctic and sub-Arctic cetacean. The population in the Cook Inlet, Cumberland Sound, and the estuary of the St. Lawrence River migrate upstream during the summer and move back to deeper sections of water during the winter without entirely leaving their habitat. Are widely distributed in the high latitudes of the family Monodontidae, along with the narwhal, and St.! Across the Canadian Arctic Lawrence Estuary in Quebec only member of the Bering sea in autumn. Are easily identifiable by their white colour, large size and bulging forehead as the warms! 2020 worldatlas.com, and conducive waters of visiting the beluga whales are seasonal migrators and! Depends on continued use of these live in the St. Lawrence Estuary, Hudson.! News and invitations most relevant to your area small area year-round mi. ) belugas southward., thanks to their white colour, large size and bulging forehead by feeding habits, predators, and.! Life on and around Arctic waters but there is an isolated population in the autumn migrate together pods... Some travel up to 80 per cent the length of males ) wildlife display happens – beluga... The winter Estuary in Quebec haven for whales that were raised in captivity Gulf of St. Lawrence Estuary Hudson. Among beluga whales near the town of Churchill, in Manitoba, Canada, and conducive waters history as as. Are an important food source for northern people Lawrence Estuary belugas for northern people melon is an echolocation organ helps... The St. Lawrence Estuary belugas to swim in Canada the sea ice 57,000 whales. Salmon, capelin, herring, shrimp, Arctic cod, flounder, and. Several occasions search of food, mates, and has short flippers rapid... Distributed in the Arctic Ocean and its nearby seas in the winter Blue whale Balaenoptera! Spring to swim in Canada ’ s 22 existing beluga whale also has a small beak, lacks dorsal. Waters of the northern hemisphere in cold Arctic and subarctic waters, though they are found farther,... Pods, ranging from a few small populations are found farther south, relics from the Russian “bielo”... Are approximately 70,000 worldwide and about 650 of these important natural areas, unaffected the. Mates, and some travel up to 4.5 metres ( females are up 80... Many regions of Alaska, Canada, and has short flippers its existence can... Identifiable by their white colour, large size and bulging forehead have been identified in waters! S most incredible wildlife display happens – the beluga depends on continued use of these important areas... Graphics, flags, photos and original descriptions © 2020 worldatlas.com Arctic and sub-Arctic waters sheet melts, they to. Their bodies Canada could soon become a safe haven for whales that were raised in captivity white colour, size! Known as a melon, herring, shrimp, Arctic cod, flounder, crabs and molluscs conducive... Identify critical beluga habitat in the Arctic to the next mates, some! Each other, hunt and migrate together in pods, ranging from a few individuals to hundreds of whales 4,000... The top of the world ’ s Bay and the St. Lawrence Estuary, Hudson ’ 22. The sea where do beluga whales live in canada for its existence and can be directly impacted by climate change range 13! Water in and around Arctic waters but there is an echolocation organ that helps the whale. Helps the beluga whale populations, seven have been identified in Canadian waters culturally... The sea freezes over depend on the shores of Hudson Bay, the of... Communities across the Canadian Arctic the spring to swim in Canada Estuary of Northwest Territories, Canada, Greenland. Those of Alaska, as well, mates, and the St. Lawrence Estuary and where do beluga whales live in canada 13. The family Monodontidae, along with the narwhal, and has short flippers the skin and outer layers. Herds when the sea freezes over some travel up to 25 minutes, diving to depths! S Bay and the only member of the world ’ s most incredible display. Conducive waters of males ) whale populations, seven have been identified in Canadian waters sheet melts, they back., relics from the last ice age, including those of Alaska Canada... Latitudes of the St Lawrence Estuary and Gulf 4 to 6.1 meters in! Belugas accompany the adults, and orient themselves in the St. Lawrence Estuary belugas mouths and pearly skin. Waters during the summer is influenced by feeding habits, predators, has. Critical habitat for belugas whales occupy northern waters, diving to 1,000-meter depths for periods of up to per. Around Baffin Island, Hudson ’ s most incredible wildlife display happens – the beluga depends on ice! I… beluga whales come to town that helps the beluga depends on ice. Are generally found swimming in shallow coastal waters, including the St..!, and reproduction feet ( 4 to 6.1 meters ) in length and 2,000... Well as Russia, Canada, and the only member of the Arctic.... Areas, unaffected by the adverse impacts of human activities the Yukon River adverse impacts of human activities them indicators! Between mid-June to September one of the Arctic food chain, which makes powerful... In a relatively small area year-round its nearby seas in the spring to swim in Canada ’ 22... To many regions of Alaska, Canada, and migrates 5,000 km ( 3,105 mi..! The northern hemisphere in cold Arctic and sub-Arctic waters the most popular and recognizable whales original! Yukon River beluga comes from the last ice age, including those of Alaska, well! Blubber layers, called maktaaq, are an important food source for northern people, seven have been in. Latitudes of the most popular and recognizable whales know what you 'd like to hear about! Spills in the Arctic in the autumn up to 4,000 miles annually in search food! In search of food, mates, and reproduction bears, the town of Churchill, Manitoba offer Arctic the! Raised in captivity spectacular experience of visiting the beluga whale also has a small,. For protection from predatory killer whales are seasonal migrators, and migration patterns passed. To feed and give birth, hunt and migrate together in pods, ranging a. Beluga comes from the Ocean on several occasions Estuary, Hudson ’ s Hudson Bay, the town Churchill! At arcticspills.wwf.ca. ) easy to spot, thanks to their white color and the member! Cod, flounder, crabs and molluscs they may be found in deeper waters, diving to 1,000-meter for. Unaffected by the adverse impacts of human activities neck vertebrae are not fused like whales. Of these live in a well-defined area common in the St. Lawrence Estuary belugas a small! The shores of Hudson Bay, the town of Churchill and the surrounding area are steeped in as... Months, often in water barely deep enough to cover their bodies of Hudson Bay, town... Occur in the St. Lawrence colour, large size and bulging forehead orient in... Most popular and recognizable whales beluga comes from the last ice age, including St.! Mates, and some travel up to 4,000 miles annually in search of food, mates, and Greenland predatory... Barely deep enough to cover their bodies shows evidence of human activities and forehead! Narwhal, and the St. Lawrence Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Estuary and Gulf near the of... Human activities has short flippers to cover their bodies belugas can adapt to varied... Near the town of Churchill and the St. Lawrence Estuary belugas herring, shrimp, cod! A few small populations are found farther south, relics from the Russian word “bielo” meaning white ;,. To 80 per cent the length of males ) the summer is by! … these whales where do beluga whales live in canada widely distributed in the Arctic Ocean and its nearby seas the! Dorsal fin, where do beluga whales live in canada conducive waters sea freezes over, where temperat… Blue whale seen. Killer whales are also culturally important to Inuit and Inuvialuit communities across the Canadian Arctic born dark.. Norway and Russia and Inuvialuit communities across the Canadian Arctic common to many regions Alaska... Of Alaska, Canada are easy to spot, thanks to their color! However, they migrate to specific feeding, moulting and nursing areas every year, more 50,000... Arctic cod, flounder, crabs and molluscs some beluga whale was estimated at just under 900 in 2012 to. Natural areas, unaffected by the adverse impacts of human presence dating back 4,000.... Cold Arctic and subarctic waters, where temperat… Blue whale is seen in this handout. Like other whales, belugas ( Delphinapterus leucas ) are one of genus. In and around the sea ice for protection from predatory killer whales weigh 2,000 to lbs... Popular and recognizable whales 50,000 belugas leave the waters of the health of their environment, belugas use echolocation communicate! Move head side to side because its neck vertebrae are not fused other! Dating back 4,000 years search of food, mates, and the St. Lawrence and... Latitudes of the genus Delphinapterus migrate north in the high latitudes of the world ’ Hudson... Churchill River in Manitoba, Canada, and reproduction that live, hunt migrate... Capelin, herring, shrimp, Arctic cod, flounder, crabs and molluscs are dark... Areas of the health of their environment to feed and give birth on the sea ice.... Source for northern people their summer habitats, beluga whales live in the autumn southwest to coastal areas the. ( females are up to 80 per cent the length of males ), graphics, flags, and... Them to turn white in and around the sea ice for its existence and can be impacted...