Adult males are 4,2 – 5,5 m long and weigh 1-1,6 tons.  Females are 3-4,1 m long and weigh 400-600 kg.  The life expectancy is 30-40 years.  Adult animals are light yellowish or white, but the calves are grey or brown and grow lighter with age.  The head is small, convex, and very flexible.  The flippers are rather short, paddle like, slightly upturned and flexible.  The fluke often has dark coloured edges and the dorsal fin is non-existent.  The average diving time is 1-2 minutes.



Beluga whale submerged


The Beluga Whale



Belugas, like other arctic whales, do not have dorsal fins (a dorsal fin causes extra heat loss and would be a major hindrance in the arctic ice), but they do have a tough dorsal ridge. They also have a thick layer of blubber that insulates them from the icy arctic waters.

The beluga is an occasional guest in Icelandic waters and is most often found in shoals of 5-20 animals, but sometimes more than one thousand are spotted together.  It sometimes follows schools of salmon and freshwater fishes hundred of kilometres up the larger rivers of cold countries.  Its most common habitat is coastal areas and is seldom spotted on the open seas.  It is rather tame and easy to approach.  It mainly consumes various fish species, squid, and krill.  It most probably does not dive any deeper than 300 m.

The cows reach puberty at the age of five and the males at eight.  Mating takes place when the ice melts, the gestation period is about 14 months and the calf is 1˝ m long and weighs 80 kg. at birth.  They start turning white 5-12 years of age.  No other whale species produces such a variety of high frequency sounds and only two other species can move their heads as freely as the beluga whale.

The Inuits have hunted this species for its meat, fat and leather for ages, 400-1000 animals annually.  Scottish and Norwegian whalers almost hunted the beluga stocks off Svalbard and in the polar regions of Canada to extinction late in the 19th and early in the 20th centuries.  Polar bears and walruses also take their toll and the increasing pollution of the oceans is considered among the reasons for the slow recovery of the stocks.  The world population is estimated 50,000 – 70,000 animals.


The word beluga comes from the Russian word "bielo" meaning white. These white whales are, however, born dark grey. It can take up to eight years before they turn completely white.


Unlike other cetaceans, belugas have a flexible neck that allows them to move their head up, down, and to the side. Their bulbous forehead, called a "melon", is also flexible and capable of changing shape. This allows them to make different facial expressions and produce a series of chirps, clicks, whistles and squeals, which give the beluga its other name, "the canary of the sea." These songs are probably used to communicate with other beluga and to help them find food through echolocation




Beluga Whale surfaced


Beluga Whale surfaced











Which way now?

Environmentalists hope to save the whales - again



Japan backs Iceland's whaling decision Seattle Post Intelligencer - 18 Oct 2006
TOKYO -- Major pro-whaling nation Japan on Wednesday welcomed Iceland's decision to resume commercial whaling, saying Iceland's catch won't "endanger the whale ...


Iceland whaling decision condemned


Greenpeace 'disappointed' by Iceland's whaling plans ABC Online


Moves begin on Iceland's whaling BBC News


Monsters and - Radio New Zealand



Greens dismayed at Iceland whaling decision (press release), New Zealand -

17 Oct 2006 News that Iceland is to begin commercial whaling after a 20-year 

hiatus is being greeted with dismay by Green Party Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei. ...



Iceland to Resume Commercial Whaling  Los Angeles Times, CA - 17 Oct 2006
REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- Iceland said Tuesday it would resume commercial whaling after a nearly two-decade moratorium, defying a worldwide ban on hunting the ...



Green warrior to come to Iceland IcelandReview, Iceland - 20-10-06
... According to RÚV, the US government is also opposed to Iceland resuming commercial whaling and has the power to block all imports from Iceland to USA. ...



Today's Scoop Just Politics News Summary 17 Oct 2006 (press release), New Zealand - commercial whaling administered by the International Whaling Commission. See... Greens dismayed at Iceland whaling decision



Update: Finnair strike expected to continue next week International Herald Tribune, France -  hours ago
... "We have received several e-mails from people saying they have decided not to visit Iceland as long as Iceland is conducting whaling," said Thorunn ...



Tharp She Gets Shot! The Return of Whaling in Iceland    19 Oct 2006

Plenty Magazine, NY -  which Iceland’s whales have been protected from hunters came to an end on Tuesday, when the country’s lawmakers voted to resume commercial whaling in the ...



Whaling is affecting tourism IcelandReview, Iceland - 19 Oct 2006
... of Swiss travel agency Baldinger Reisen AG sent a written statement to yesterday, expressing his concerns about Iceland resuming whaling. ...



Iceland, Whales, Politics  FiNS Magazine, Singapore - 18 Oct 2006
... For a good overview on the Iceland decision and the issues associated with commercial whaling in general, see this recent article in the Guardian. ...



Iceland to resume commercial whaling after almost 2 decades USA Today 17-10-06
Critics say the "scientific" whaling practiced by Japan and Iceland is a sham. Norway ignores the moratorium altogether and openly conducts commercial whaling.



Iceland's Whaling Comeback - Preparations for the Resumption of ...

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) is the leading international charity dedicated solely to the worldwide conservation and welfare of all ... allweb/B2460680BC28D8F480256D4A0040D97B



BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Moves begin on Iceland's whaling

Iceland's ambassador to Britain is summoned to explain his country's return to commercial



BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Iceland bids to resume whaling

Iceland reveals its plans to catch whales again for the first time since 1989, despite the international whaling moratorium.



Iceland Whaling v/s Whale watching. Whaling v/s Whale watching.

The most commonly used argument in Iceland is that whaling must be resumed before the whales start ... Yearly report on Iceland whale watching industry: ... 



My opinion: Iceland's reasons for scientific whaling are FUBAR and if we can ... I wonder how many of you criticising Iceland's whaling have actually read ...



Stop Icelandic whaling

Stop Icelandic Whaling: Arctic Sunrise Expedition 2005, Stop Icelandic Whaling: Arctic ... tourism in Iceland IF Iceland discontinues whaling. One Icelandic ...



Greenpeace 'disappointed' by Iceland's whaling plans. 19/10/2006

Greenpeace says it is very disappointed Iceland has decided to resume commercial whaling Iceland has authorised an annual hunt of 30 minke and nine of the ...



Earth Island Institute

Iceland's whaling proposal threatens its growing whale-watching industry. In 2002, more than 62000 people went whale-watching in Iceland. ...



Japan backs Iceland's whaling decision - Yahoo! News

Major pro-whaling nation Japan on Wednesday welcomed Iceland's decision to resume commercial whaling, saying Iceland's catch won't "endanger the whale ... ap_on_re_eu/japan_iceland_whaling



Whales on the Net - Iceland Whaling Protest Letter

I am appalled to learn that Iceland has decided to resume commercial whaling under the guise of scientific research, and plans to kill 38 minke whales this ... 







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