#WhaleWednesday – Beluga Whales


The beluga whale is a relatively small toothed whale that is brown-gray at birth and bright white in adulthood. The beluga is one of just two species in the “white whales” family, the other being the narwhal. As they are closely related and do not have the characteristic tusk of the males, juvenile and female Narwhals can be incorrectly identified as belugas.

Belugas, however, are typically more solidly white than their grayish cousins.  Adult belugas are also slightly larger than Narwhals, reaching lengths of around 18 feet (5.5 m).  Interestingly, the beluga whale is the only species of cetacean (whales and dolphins) that has a movable neck.  Belugas can move their heads up and down and from side to side.

Beluga whales are restricted to the Arctic Ocean and adjacent waters.  They feed in shallow, coastal waters during the summer and near the ice edge in winter.  Some populations undergo long, seasonal migrations, while others are more resident in nature.  They eat a variety of fish and invertebrate prey.  Killer whales and polar bears have been known to attack and eat beluga whales.  Scientists believe that belugas may swim far into ice-covered waters to avoid Killer Whales but that this may put them in greater risk of predation by Polar Bears.

Occasionally, belugas can be observed far inland, swimming up coastal rivers as far as hundreds of miles.  Scientists do not know if these trips into freshwater are for feeding or for other purposes, but belugas are apparently unafraid of very shallow water.  In fact, some individuals have been known to survive being stranded/beached by patiently waiting for the return of the high tide.  Belugas are also known for their loud, clear vocalizations.  They often “sing,” and can even be heard above the ocean surface by people in boats or onshore.

Northern Manitoba’s Hudson Bay coastline is home to the world’s largest population of beluga whales. More than 57,000 beluga whales gather in the region between mid-June to mid-September.

You can check out Explore.org live cams in Churchill: it’s the office season now – but the live cam highlights are definitely worth checking out!



Conservation scientists consider the beluga to be near threatened with extinction.  Climate change is causing rapid changes to the Arctic ecosystem that affect beluga habitat, and chemical pollution in the Arctic is particularly bad, risking the health of large predators like this species.  These whales are hunted, legally, by indigenous peoples all around the Arctic, but this ongoing hunt is not generally thought to threaten the species.  Climate change and pollution are likely more significant threats to beluga populations, though further research is necessary before accurate predictions can be made.


Inside the Tanks Documentary

The wait it almost over! Inside The Tanks Documentary will be available to watch online TOMORROW: bit.ly/insidethetanks

This documentary is unique in its approach. Presenter and Producer Jonny Meah blasts the marine captivity debate wide open, giving all sides of the debate a chance to have their say, with in depth interviews from The Born Free Foundation, Dr Ingrid Visser, John Hargrove, and in a world exclusive on the topic, an interview with The Zoological Director of Marineland Antibes, Jon Kershaw.

Take a look at the trailer now:


Thomas Gainard: Held & Interrogated for 6 Days in Japan

Thomas Gainard Has Been Found – Via Paul Watson

Thomas took the ferry from Korea to Japan and was not heard from for 6 days.

Where was he?

Calls to the Japanese Immigration authorities were met with the answer that they did not know who he was and that he had not entered Japan. This of course was a cause for serious concern.

Last seen on a Ferry to Japan but according to the Japanese at the point of entry of the Ferry Terminal at Fukuoka, he did not enter the country and they had no information on his whereabouts.

Thomas was released today, He had been held for interrogation by Japan wanting to know why he was attempting to visit Japan. During the 6 days he was held he was not allowed to contact anyone. This denial of his rights caused great stress and worry to his friends and family.

Why was he being interrogated and why was he denied entry? He was not wanted for a crime and had not committed any crime.

But he is a former Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian and he had in the past been to Taiji, Japan to witness the horrific slaughter of the dolphins.

It appears that simply witnessing the dolphin slaughter is cause for being detained and interrogated whenever any Cove Guardian tries to re-enter Japan.

In Japan it seems that bearing witness to the slaughter of dolphins is an activity that the Japanese have deemed subversive and anyone who has witnessed the slaughter is now being denied entry to the entire country.

He is now on a ferry back to Korea where he expects to be detained and questioned again. We are relieved to know he is not missing and has not been arrested.

Japan where brutal killers are protected by the State and where compassion is punished harshly.