Called “canaries of the sea” these Arctic odontocetes have a very cheery and colorful sounding social vocalization repertoire. Second to the bottlenose dolphin, Belugas are probably the most anthropomorphized of the cetaceans (folks personally identify with them). This is likely due to the appearance of a “smile” on their mouth, and the fact that they have very flexible necks, so they can look around by shifting their heads like humans.
They also have a very plastic melon that can change shape to “mind-blowing” degrees. Given that the melon is associated with bio-sonar and hearing, this indicates a very complex relationship with sound.
Discovery of Sound in the Sea: Beluga Whale
Arkive.org: Beluga Whale
Arctic Studies Center: Beluga Whales
Discovery News: Beluga Whales Have Distinct Voices
NOAA Fisheries: Beluga Whales in Alaska
SeaWorld Education Department: Beluga Whales
University of Vermont: Beluga Range and Habitat
Whales Online: St. Lawrence River Estuary
Karlsen, J.D., Bisther, A., Lydersen, C., Haug, T. and Kovacs, K.M. 2002. Summer vocalisations of adult male white whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in Svalbard, Norway. Polar Biology 25(11): 808-817.
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Sjare, B.L. and T.G. Smith. 1986. The vocal repertoire of white whales, Delphinapterus leucas, summering in Cunningham Inlet, Northwest Territories. Canadian Journal of Zoology 64(2): 407-415.
Lesage, V., Barrette, C., Kingsley, M.C.S. and Sjare, B. 1999. The effect of vessel noise on the vocal behavior of belugas in the St. Lawrence River Estuary, Canada. Marine Mammal Science 15(1): 65-84.
Scheifele, P. M., Andrew, S., Cooper, R. A., Darre, M., Musiek, F. E. and Max, L. 2005. Indication of a Lombard vocal response in the St. Lawrence River beluga. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 117(3): 1486-1492.