Species at Risk
Beluga (St. Lawrence population)
What is the St. Lawrence Beluga?
With its white skin and prominent forehead, it
is easily recognizable among the other sea mammals.
© Parks Canada / N. Boisvert / 05.53.10.03
(13) / 2002
The beluga is a mammal in the cetacean family. It is distinguished by its
thick, white skin, its prominent, rounded forehead and the absence of a dorsal
fin. It is assumed that these characteristics resulted from adaptation to
the icy waters of the Arctic. The beluga is a toothed whale. Its size generally
ranges from 3 to 4 metres. Calves are an average of 1.5 metres long at birth.
When they are born, their skin is brown or slate grey. As they age their colour
pales, becoming white when they are adults. One of the unique aspects of the
beluga is that it has a very wide range of sounds that include barks, cackles,
clicks, grunts and many others. That is where it got the nickname “sea
Belugas, in addition to their impressive vocal repertoire,
can also emit ultrasonic sounds! The echo that comes back allows them to find
prey, holes in the ice and even obstacles.
Where is the St. Lawrence Beluga found?
Belugas are generally found in the parts of the Arctic and sub-arctic seas
that are only covered in ice during certain seasons. The St. Lawrence population
is the farthest south on Earth. During the summer, the St. Lawrence beluga
mainly stays in the St. Lawrence Estuary and the Saguenay River Fjord, where
it can find plenty of food. During the winter, it stays more in the Gulf of