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Information on the Distinctive White Beluga Whale

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BELUGA WHALE

1) In 2009, a captive beluga whale rescued a diver during a free-diving competition. 2. Belugas are gregarious and live in social groups of 2-25 individuals (the average group size is ten). 3. Belugas are unique among cetaceans in that the vertebrae in their necks are not fused together. This gives their heads added manueverability.

2) The beluga whale, or Delphinapterus leucas, is the only member of its genus. It shares the Monodont family with one other species, Monodon monoceros, otherwise known as the narwhal. They are in the sub-order Odontoceti, which contains 74 species, and the order Cetacea, which contains 89. This in turn is part of the mammalian clade Cetartiodactyla.

3) Beluga whales are born dark gray, but within 8 years their coloration changes to a distinctive white. The species sexually dimorphic, whith males roughly 25% larger than females. Males weigh between 1,100 and 1,600 kg and are 3.5-5.5 m in length. Females range between 700 and 1,200 kg, and between 3 and 4.1 m in length. They are Arctic and sub-Arctic, inhabiting the Arctic ocean and its adjacent seas. Belugas are adapted to a range of habitats including open oceans, shallow coasts, ice flats, and warm-water estuaries. Some populations migrate annually while others remain in an area year-round. The global population is estimated between 60,000 and 80,000 individuals.

4) Belugas were once thought to live up to 30 years, but this is contested by a recent study that estimated up to 70
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