Beluga Whale Trivia
Do you know the color of a baby beluga? Any idea what threats these Arctic whales are facing in the wild? Take our quiz below to put your knowledge to the test, then share it with your family and friends to see who knows the most about the beluga whales! When you're finished, scroll down to reveal the correct answers and explanations.
Each summer, belugas migrate to the warmer waters of the Churchill River. First Nations people have fished along this waterway for thousands of years, and the Cree word for the river is "Missinipi", which means:
Correct Answer: Big water
Explanation: While they generally travel in groups of 10, beluga whales gather in pods of hundreds or thousands during migrations and periods of plentiful food. The Western Hudson Bay, which holds the Churchill River basin, is home to the largest summering concentration of belugas in the world. The whales travel there to feed, give birth and nurture their young.
Photo Credit: All underwater belugas—Alexander de Vries
Unlike most whales, a beluga can…
Correct Answer: Turn its head in different directions.
Explanation: Belugas are toothed whales and are only found in Arctic and subarctic waters. Only narwhals grow tusks. Unlike most whales, the seven vertebrae in a beluga’s neck are not fused together, which means it can turn its head laterally without having to move its body.
What is a beluga’s protruding head called?
Correct Answer: Melon
Explanation : : It is believed that a beluga’s melon plays a part in echolocation and communication. The melon becomes flattened or rounded, depending on nourishment or mood—an aggravated beluga elevates its melon into a raised position by spouting air through its sinuses.
Which animal is not a predator of beluga whales?
Correct Answer: Narwhal
Explanation: Belugas and narwhals are the only cetaceans belonging to the Monodontidae family. The narwhal has a diet similar to that of the beluga and feeds upon fish, squid and crab. Polar bears and orcas are the primary predators of beluga whales. As the climate warms, orcas have been taking advantage of the decrease in sea ice and traveling farther north into the Hudson Bay area. This could pose a potential threat to beluga populations as the climate continues to change.
Photo Credit: Narwhal—Paul Nicklen / National Geographic Stock / WWF-Canada, Polar Bear—Eddy Savage
The name “beluga” has etymological origins to the Russian word "bieluii," which means what?
Correct Answer: White
Explanation: Belugas are easily identifiable by their porcelain-white coloring. White skin helps these whales blend in with the Arctic sea ice, which camouflages them from predators.
Fun Fact: Blubber accounts for more than 40 percent of a beluga’s body weight, which keeps it warm in Arctic temperatures.
Beluga calves are born:
Correct Answer: Gray
Explanation: A mother gives birth to a single calf every two to three years between the months of April and September. Calves are born gray and slowly lose pigmentation as they mature.
Approximately how much food does a beluga eat per day?
Correct Answer: 50 pounds
Explanation: Belugas prey on fish such as herring, salmon, cod and flounder. These whales eat many other types of marine life, including shrimp, crab, squid, snails, octopus and mollusks. Dives for food last an average of three to five minutes, and it is thought they use echolocation to hunt.
Belugas' are also called:
Correct Answer: Sea canaries
Explanation: Belugas are one of the most vocal species of all whales and frequently communicate with each other. Their repertoire includes clicks, chirps, whistles, clangs, moos, squeaks and trills. When whalers of old heard the whales’ songs, they nicknamed the belugas “sea canaries.”
Which of the following is not a threat to the beluga whale?
Correct Answer: Competition for food with vaquita porpoises
Explanation: The vaquita porpoise is a cetacean on the brink of extinction and is found only in the northern part of the Gulf of California. Climate change is affecting Arctic species such as the beluga in a myriad of ways. With less ice comes more opportunities for industrialization, gas exploration and commercial shipping, which increases the risks of pollutants, oil spills and underwater noise pollution. Marine traffic can also disrupt beluga migration routes, and the increasing presence of open-water species, such as capelin and sand lance, have implications on the marine food web of the Hudson Bay ecosystem.
World Wildlife Fund is helping protect belugas by:
Correct Answer: All of the above
Explanation: World Wildlife Fund has been Identifying critical beluga areas in the Arctic and working to secure adequate protection for them. The NGO has also been supporting satellite tagging of these whales in the Hudson Bay, as well as community-based projects monitoring beluga health. Lastly, WWF partnered with the Natural Resource Defense Council and Ocean Conservation Research to raise awareness and address the threat of ocean noise pollution on marine animals such as the beluga, which depends on sound for survival.