Beluga Whale: Photo by Jofre Ferrer on Flickr.
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
Arctic Studies Center
Discovery News: Canaries of the Sea
NOAA Fisheries: Beluga Whales in Alaska
SeaWorld Education Department
University of Vermont: Beluga Range and Habitat
Whales Online: St. Lawrence River Estuary
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