Belugas are extremely sociable mammals that live, hunt and migrate together in pods, ranging from a few individuals to hundreds of whales.
Their bulbous forehead, called a “melon”, is flexible and capable of changing shape. This allows them to make different facial expressions. Belugas can produce a series of chirps, clicks, whistles and squeals, which give the beluga its other name, “the canary of the sea.” 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