SOLITARY SOCIAL BELUGAS (DELPHINAPTERUS LEUCAS)
IN NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Many people in communities around Newfoundland and Labrador have seen belugas in our waters, usually alone or in small groups. However, they are not native to our province (COSEWIC, 2004). The belugas seen here are juvenile males who became separated from their pods. The beluga has no dorsal fin and is pure white. It’s torpedo- shaped body has a “smiling” beaklike face and round head. Belugas swim slowly at the surface breathing a couple of times a minute. Although it is rare to sight one, social belugas have been sighted in the past 10 years all around the region. Survival of those animals is questionable.
YOU CAN HELP AVOID STRESS AND INJURIES TO BELUGAS
Watch them from land rather than from a boat.
Never feed, touch, chase, throw things or offer objects as toys to the whale.
Avoid disease transmission: don’t put your hands in whale’s mouth or touch the blowhole.
Recreational swimming near the animal is not recommended.
When boating, go slow creating no wake in the whale’s vicinity.
Belugas are attracted to boat motors – do not attract them deliberately as they can be injured by the propeller.
Remember, it is a privilege to see a wild, free-ranging whale! Enjoy the animal from a distance.
The closest populations of belugas are in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and in the Arctic; it has not been confirmed which of these populations the lone belugas around Newfoundland and Labrador have come from.