The Beluga Whale
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Delphinapterus leucas STATUS: Endangered
Description of Animal
Habitat/Ecozone of Beluga Whales
Trophic Significance of Beluga Whales
Reasons for Endangerment
Thousands of years of evolution have prepared the beluga for life on and around the sea ice. Because of climate change, that ice cover has been changing rapidly, in both extent and thickness, and shrinking far too quickly for these species to adapt. A beluga’s entire life is connected to sea ice, both as a place to feed and a place to take refuge. Slow swimming beluga whales rely on sea ice as a place to hide from predators like orcas, and they also use these floating chunks of ice as a means for knowing their position by using their intricate sonar abilities.
Another one of the major threats to Belugas is the development of the Oil and Gas industry in their Arctic habitat. The reason this is deterring the Beluga population is because as there are vessels that support the oil corporations coming through there will be increased shipping in sensitive areas. This can lead to pollution and the possibility of oil and gas spills however the most damage this industry causes is with noise pollution. Shipping, industrial extraction, marine construction and military activities are all guilty of contributing to Ocean noise pollution. The reason this affects Belugas is because of their keen sense of hearing that they use as sonar to understand the positioning of themselves as well as objects around them. When there is a major disturbance such as an underwater explosion, the Beluga will then become disoriented and will most likely collide with something such as another whale or will incidentally beach themselves.
Preventing the problem
"Beluga." WorldWildlife.org. World Wildlife Fund. Web. 24 Mar. 2015. https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/beluga.
"Beluga Whales, Beluga Whale Pictures, Beluga Whale Facts - National Geographic." National Geographic. National Geographic Society. Web. 24 Mar. 2015. http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/beluga-whale/.
"Basic Facts About Beluga Whales." Defenders of Wildlife. Charity Navigator, 18 Mar. 2012. Web. 24 Mar. 2015. http://www.defenders.org/beluga-whale/basic-facts.