Beluga Whale | Oceana Canada

Canadian Marine Life Encyclopedia

Beluga Whale

Delphinapterus leucas

Also known as

White whale, sea canary, beluga


Throughout the Arctic ocean and the St. Lawrence Estuary


Shallow, coastal waters and near ice edge

Feeding Habits

Foraging predator

Conservation Status

Endangered/Threatened/Special Concern


Suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales); Family Monodontidae (white whales)


Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google+

Beluga whales are easy to spot, thanks to their white colour, large size and bulging forehead. At birth these pale whales aren’t white at all – they’re slate grey, and it can take up to eight years to develop their distinct white colour. They are unique among whales because they have very flexible necks and can move their head in almost any direction, separately from their body. They are also known as “sea canaries” because they are a chatty species. They are able to create such a wide variety of sounds due to the tissue in their large, bulbous forehead, called a melon, which is used to create and amplify sounds in the marine environment. The noises belugas make are both to communicate with their pod as well as to navigate. Belugas use echolocation to navigate in the dark waters of the Arctic Ocean.