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Text: Mammals.
Photo: Beluga, Delphinapterus leucas.
Beluga, Delphinapterus leucas
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Where are they found? Arctic OceanAtlantic OceanPacific Ocean

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The beluga, which is also called the white whale, is found mainly in Arctic and northern Pacific and Atlantic waters, around Europe, Asia and North America. A small, highly vulnerable population exists in the Gulf of St. Lawrence near the mouth of the Saguenay River.

In 1906, the skull and part of the skeleton of a young beluga were found beneath more than 4 m (14 ft.) of clay during the excavation of a well near Pakenham, Ontario. About 11 000 years ago this area was covered by an ancient arm of the Atlantic Ocean that we now call the Champlain Sea. The presence of belugas in the Champlain Sea strongly suggests that its waters were relatively cold.

Beluga males average around 4.1 m (13.5 ft.) in length and about 1 500 kg (3,300 lb.). Females are about 15% smaller. The young are born dark grey and gradually by about five years old fade to the pure white colouration of the adults.

These whales eat fish such as cod and herring, and squids, octopuses and crabs.

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Photo: Beluga, Delphinapterus leucas. Photo: Beluga, Delphinapterus leucas. Photo: Beluga, Delphinapterus leucas. Photo: Beluga, Delphinapterus leucas.

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