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Species at Risk

Beluga (St. Lawrence population)

Delphinapterus leucas

Side view of a Beluga in Saguenay St.Lawrence Marine Park
Beluga in Saguenay St. Lawrence Marine Park.
© Parks Canada / W. Lynch / (07)/ 2002

The beluga, also called the “white whale,” “white porpoise” and “sea canary,” has always been fascinating. With its white skin and prominent forehead, it is easily recognizable among the other sea mammals. The St. Lawrence beluga spends the year in the St. Lawrence estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and frequents the Saguenay River Fjord during the summer. This curious, chatty and outgoing mammal has been threatened with extinction for some decades. The main reason for this species’ decline is whaling, which took place until the 20th century. Pollution has been and still is a significant cause of the St. Lawrence beluga’s uncertain situation. To maintain a viable population of this mammal in the St. Lawrence, a recovery plan has been put in place. A true environmental symbol in Quebec, the beluga can even be found at the very origin of the founding of the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park!