Essay on The White Whale

Submitted By simjack
Words: 881
Pages: 4

In the ocean lives a very unique creature called the Beluga, or white whale. The whale gets this name from the Russian word for white, “Belukha”. Its scientific name is Delphinapterus Leucas, which means “without wing”, unlike other whales, it has no dorsal fin (Discover the World’s Most Endangered Species, arkive.org). The whales are found around the poles and off the coasts of Scandinavia, Greenland, Svalbard, former Soviet Union, and North America (Carwardine, 93). But Belugas are most commonly kept in captivity, in wild parks and aquariums because of their interesting white color and small size. It is categorized as a Cetacean. Cetaceans are a group of marine mammals that consist of dolphins, whales, and porpoises. Unlike any other cetacean, the beluga can nod and turn its head 90 degress. Despite these amazing and unique qualities, humans invade their habitat for their own benefit. Beluga Whales are one of the only living species left of the monodontidae family besides the narwhal, but the actions of humans are threatening their chances of survival (Education conservation, acsonline.org). Beluga Whales diet consists of salmon, and arctic cod, also cephalopods such as squid and octopuses, as well as crustacean like shrimp, and crab. The whale catches bigger prey like salmon by using its ten cone-shaped teeth on either side of their jaw to grasp and hold the prey before it swallows the prey whole. The whales also use their ability to pucker their lips to create a suction to pick up small crustaceans (Folkens, 321). The ability that the Beluga has to pucker its lips allows it to create facial expressions. Unlike other cetaceans the Beluga Whale can alter the shape of their lips and move their forehead to make it seem as if they are smiling, frowning, or whistling (Carwardine, 94).
There are various living patterns of Beluga in an undisturbed habitat. Beluga Whales are social animals that migrate in pods. Most pods don’t migrate far, but some will migrate up to 620 miles (Folkens, 319). They migrate north to estuaries in the spring and back south in autumn when ice starts to form. Some pods don’t migrate at all, and are found in estuaries all year around. Estuaries are narrow water ways along coasts where the fresh water from rivers meets the salt water from the oceans. The whales migrate around July because they molt their yellow skin. They molt by rubbing their bodies against the coarse rocks in the shallow water. They molt annually to get rid of old skin that turns yellow. (Discover the World’s Most Endangered Species, arkive.org).
The whales can make a multitude of “trill, squawks, and other bell-like sounds,” that can be heard from in and outside of the water. For this reason, Beluga Whales are known as “Sea Canaries” (Folkens, 318). The sound of the off shore drilling interrupts the whales ability to communicate and forage. This is due to the fact that Belugas can detect prey with sounds sent out through their nasal passages (Worlds Most Endangered Species, arkive.org).
Although Belugas appear to live a simple life, they have many things to fear. In the wild, they are hunted by Polar Bears and Killer Whales. Despite the fact that Polar Bears are land mammals, they attack the Belugas when they are entrapped in ice, fighting for air. The Polar Bears use their claws to scratch and drag the whales on to the…