Beluga whales, one of the smallest species of whales, are known as “White Whales’ because of their unique color. Unlike most whales, beluga whales can actually turn their heads in all directions because of their flexible necks.
Belugas are social mammals, living together in pods, and communicate with their social groups with a complex language filled with clicks and whistles. In addition to the usual beluga whale language, these graceful animals can also mimic a variety of other sounds, prompting the small whales to be known as the canaries of the sea.
The range of beluga whales is relatively small. They live in coastal areas of the Arctic Ocean, the world-s smallest ocean. When the ocean freezes beluga whales migrate south, but many whales become trapped by the ice and die.
Cook Inlet beluga whales are listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, placing them under protection. They are one of the five most endangered whale species due to over harvesting of the majestic animals.
In addition to hunters, belugas are threatened by oil pollution, mercury, and PCBs. Some belugas whales found dead in the St. Lawrence River area in Canada have been so contaminated that their corpses have been categorized as toxic waste.