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 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.
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 1½ 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
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.