Beluga

Beluga whale.
Credit: Greg Hume

Name

  • Common name: Beluga
  • Scientific name: Dephinapterus leucas
  • Order: Cetacae
  • Family: Monodontidae
  • Indigenous names for this species may be available through the Yukon Native Language Centre

Also known as

White Whale

Viewing opportunities

  • The white back of the Beluga whale is easy to spot from the shore but you’ll need to visit the Yukon’s northern coast for a chance.

Description

  • White skin
  • Round body tapers sharply at head and appears to have “shoulders.”
  • Broad and short flippers that are nearly square-shaped.
  • Distinctive melon shape to forehead.

Fast facts

  • Length: 3 to 5 m
  • Weight: 700 to 1600 kg
  • Lifespan: 30 years
  • Predators: Polar Bears, Orcas
  • Habitat: Marine and Coastal

Conservation status

What is conservation status?

  • Yukon: S4 (Apparently Secure)
  • Global: G5 (Secure)

Yukon population estimate

Not determined.

Behaviour

Belugas are highly sociable and regularly form small groups up to 25 whales. Pods contain both sexes and are led by a dominant male. They show a great deal of curiosity towards humans and will frequently swim alongside boats.

Diet

Fish, shrimp, squid, crustaceans and molluscs.

Distribution

Beluga distribution map.

Sights and sounds

Belugas and people

  • Belugas are harvested for subsistence by the Inuvialuit peoples along the north coast of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. The blubber is an essential part of the Inuvialuit diet.