July 13: Whales!!!


We are told that migrating Beluga wales have arrived in the area and Beth father, Ozzie, suggest we go see them (a 20 minutes Twin Otter flight from Resolute, in Cunningham Inlet).
for those interested: The beluga whale is a small, toothed whale that is white as an adult. The beluga's body is stout and has a small, blunt head with a small beak, tiny eyes, thick layers of blubber, and a rounded melon. They have one blowhole. Beluga means "white one" in Russian.
Beluga whales are very social animals and congregate in pods (social groups) of 2-25 whales, with an average pod size of 10 whales (consisting of both males and females or mothers and calves). A pod will hunt and migrate as a group. The bond between mothers and calves is the strongest. During migrations, several pods may join together, forming groups of 200-10,000 belugas.
Belugas live in frigid Arctic and sub-Arctic waters, but some populations migrate south to warmer water in the summer. Beluga's Arctic habitat overlaps with narwhal's habitat. (The narwhal is its closest relative.)
The gestation period of the beluga is about 14-15 months and the calf is born tail or head first and near the surface in warm, shallow waters. They breed in warm, shallow waters or estuaries (where rivers meet seas). The newborn instinctively swims to the surface within 10 seconds for its first breath; it is helped by its mother, using her flippers. The newborn calf is about 4-5 feet (1.2-1.5 m) long and weighs over 100-140 lbs (45-64 kg). Single births are the norm; twins are very rare. Calves are not white like the adults; they are blue to brownish-red for the first year of life. During the second year they are gray to blue. Their pigment (melanin) fades slowly, and by 6 years old, they are white. The baby is nurtured with its mother's fat-laden milk (it is 28% fat) and is weaned in about 12-24 months.Beluga whales reach maturity at 7-9 years. (source: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/whales/species/Beluga.shtml)