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Beluga Whale Information

Belugas, also known as white whales, are the smallest species of whales. These whales range only from 13 feet to 20 feet. Belugas are easily distinguishable by their all white color, rounded foreheads, and lack of dorsal fin. These whales are most closely related to the narwhals or “unicorn” whales.

Belugas reside near coastal regions of the Arctic Ocean and though they are coated in five inches of thick blubber, they still head south during the predominantly colder months. Sometimes they chase smelt into rivers like the Naknek River featured on this camera. Belugas are very social mammals and usually reside with other belugas in groups called pods. They communicate with each other through a series of clicks, clangs, and whistles. Belugas have also learned how to mimic other sounds in order to communicate to one another.

Their diets include smaller fish, crustaceans, and worms. Belugas hunt for food in water columns and seafloors and have been known to dive down into the depths of up to 2,000 feet in order to find food. Once on the seafloor, belugas will suck in any unsuspecting prey into its mouth. Unlike other whales, belugas have necks that are flexible that allow them to have a wide range of movement and effectively making foraging the ocean floor for food that much easier.

Calves

Baby belugas, or calves, are often brown or dark gray upon birth and only after they have reached sexual maturity (around 5 years old) do they turn white. Calves often stay and nurse with their mother for up to a year until they are able to digest smaller foods such as shrimp or small fish. During this time, it is common that mothers with calves separate from their pods that house other male belugas. A beluga’s lifespan ranges from 25 to 30 years.

Threats to Belugas

A beluga’s main predator is man. Man has hunted belugas for centuries, especially indigenous peoples. Due to their thick blubber, their skin has provided warmth to humans for centuries both as sustenance and as shelter. During the 1800s, commercial hunting became a worldwide phenomenon and belugas were hunted extensively.

Another threat to these whales is environmental hazards due to industrial runoff and oil exploration. Toxins that end up in the ocean are first ingested by smaller species that belugas eventually end up consuming. These toxins become more concentrated as they make their way up the food chain. When belugas ingest toxins such a lead or mercury, their immune system becomes vulnerable and makes them susceptible to diseases and infections.

Besides man, killer whales and polar bears also hunt belugas, especially small calves that are vulnerable in the vast ocean.

  • grant: $150,000 - Katmai National Park and Preserve

    To provide salary support and equipment for a seasonal media ranger position, to support educational programming and the brown bear webcams, and for ongoing interpretive activities

  • topic: whales

  • location: king salmon

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about beluga river camera

Naknek River Camera NPS Logo

Related Links · Tide Predictions for King Salmon
· Katmai National Park and Preserve
· Alaska Peninsula and Becharof National Wildlife Refuges
· Alaska Department of Fish and Game
You are watching live footage of the Naknek River in King Salmon, Alaska. In the spring, the Naknek River is one of first ice-free places in the area attracting thousands of migrating swans, geese, and ducks. During April and May, beluga whales swim up the Naknek River chasing schools of smelt.

about

location: King Salmon, Alaska

best hours: 7:00am - 10:00pm

time zone: Alaska Daylight Time

links: Alaska Peninsula
Katmai National Park and Preserve
Tide Predictions for King Salmon
National Marine Fisheries Service

grants

NGO: Katmai National Park and Preserve

grant: $150,000

location: Brooks Camp - Falls

mission: To provide salary support and equipment for a seasonal media ranger position, to support educational programming and the brown bear webcams, and for ongoing interpretive activities

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Beluga Whale Information

Belugas, also known as white whales, are the smallest species of whales. These whales range only from 13 feet to 20 feet. Belugas are easily distinguishable by their all white color, rounded foreheads, and lack of dorsal fin. These whales are most closely related to the narwhals or “unicorn” whales.

Belugas reside near coastal regions of the Arctic Ocean and though they are coated in five inches of thick blubber, they still head south during the predominantly colder months. Sometimes they chase smelt into rivers like the Naknek River featured on this camera. Belugas are very social mammals and usually reside with other belugas in groups called pods. They communicate with each other through a series of clicks, clangs, and whistles. Belugas have also learned how to mimic other sounds in order to communicate to one another.

Their diets include smaller fish, crustaceans, and worms. Belugas hunt for food in water columns and seafloors and have been known to dive down into the depths of up to 2,000 feet in order to find food. Once on the seafloor, belugas will suck in any unsuspecting prey into its mouth. Unlike other whales, belugas have necks that are flexible that allow them to have a wide range of movement and effectively making foraging the ocean floor for food that much easier.

Calves

Baby belugas, or calves, are often brown or dark gray upon birth and only after they have reached sexual maturity (around 5 years old) do they turn white. Calves often stay and nurse with their mother for up to a year until they are able to digest smaller foods such as shrimp or small fish. During this time, it is common that mothers with calves separate from their pods that house other male belugas. A beluga’s lifespan ranges from 25 to 30 years.

Threats to Belugas

A beluga’s main predator is man. Man has hunted belugas for centuries, especially indigenous peoples. Due to their thick blubber, their skin has provided warmth to humans for centuries both as sustenance and as shelter. During the 1800s, commercial hunting became a worldwide phenomenon and belugas were hunted extensively.

Another threat to these whales is environmental hazards due to industrial runoff and oil exploration. Toxins that end up in the ocean are first ingested by smaller species that belugas eventually end up consuming. These toxins become more concentrated as they make their way up the food chain. When belugas ingest toxins such a lead or mercury, their immune system becomes vulnerable and makes them susceptible to diseases and infections.

Besides man, killer whales and polar bears also hunt belugas, especially small calves that are vulnerable in the vast ocean.

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