Here are some interesting facts about Beluga whales.
There are many reasons Beluga whales stand out from the crowd of more than 80 species of cetaceans. These marine mammals can be easily identified due to their pale shade and petite stature. Here are some other amazing facts about these whales you may not know about.
Beluga whales have the ability to swim backwards
Beluga whales can swim backwards. This is quite unusual among cetaceans.
Beluga whales can be extremely vocal
One of the amazing things that these whales are known for is their rich and varied vocalizations. That is why they are popularly known as “sea canary” as they can be extremely loud. One study documented 34 distinct calls in a beluga population in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea. They have various sounds – bell-like tones, high-pitched whistles, clicks, mews, bleats, and chirps. The noises they produce are used for echolocation when they are navigating dark waters. Experts speculate they also help them communicate with other whales. The calls exchanged between mothers and calves have been compared to the sound of a finger running along a comb made of plastic.
Beluga whales have the ability to mimic human speech
According to reports, beluga whales that live in captivity can mimic the speech of humans. This type of behaviour was first exhibited in a beluga whale named NOC, who lived at the National Marine Mammal Foundation in San Diego for 30 years. A human diver reportedly climbed out of the whale’s tank when he thought he heard a person instruct him to leave. Reports claim it was actually NOC mimicking the word “out.”
Beluga whales’ striking colour helps them to survive
The most distinctive feature of this particular whale is its striking colour. While calves tend to be dark grey, adults are usually a white shade. This striking colour helps them to blend in and not stand out. Researchers speculate their pigmentation acts as a camouflage to protect them from predators, like polar bears and orcas, while they swim among sea ice in their Arctic habitat.
Beluga whales can communicate with bubbles
Being master vocalists is not their only amazing skill, beluga whales have also mastered the art of bubble-blowing. One study found this behaviour is not just done for fun. It is also a communication technique. It can be a sign of playfulness, a defensive reaction, and even a social bonding behaviour.