Beluga

beluga whale, credit: alazor/ Essentials Collection/ Getty Images

Western Hudson Bay Population
Special Concern Provincially and Nationally

Description

• Small, toothed whale, up to four metres in length and weighing about a tonne
• Pronounced “melon-head”; dorsal ridge rather than a true fin
• White skin as adult (soft grey when young)
• Very social animal that produces a wide range of complex sounds to communicate

Range

• In summer, congregates in river estuaries and shallow bays to moult and calve
• They live in the open ocean in fall and winter
• Usually winters in seas off Baffin Island, mingling with other populations

Threats

• Overhunting
• Increased freight shipping in Hudson Bay
• Potential disturbance from hydroelectric development on coastal rivers of Hudson Bay Lowlands

Protection

• Not protected under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 or under the Species at Risk Act, 2002

Fact

The beluga population along the Ontario coastline of Hudson Bay is estimated at more than 7,000.

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