Move over, polar bears. The beluga whales that migrate to Manitoba each summer are making themselves known. Widely hailed as the “Polar Bear Capital of the World,” Churchill has now also earned the moniker of “Beluga Whale Capital of the World.” These socialites love to gather in large numbers, making it easy to spot a pod of them during the summer. With approximately 4,000 of them swimming to the Churchill River every July and August to feed and give birth, you won’t have to look far for their distinctive white coloring and globular heads. Want to know more? Here are some fun facts about beluga whales to inspire your fascination. 

Did You Know …

Beluga Whales Swim Slowly.

Just like the tortoise, belugas believe that slow and steady wins the race. Their average swimming speed is 2 to 6 miles per hour, with bursts of up to 14 miles per hour. For comparison’s sake, an orca whale swims up to 28 miles per hour. While they can’t swim fast, they can swim deep - more than 2,600 feet below sea level, for as long as 25 minutes at a time. One more fun fact - belugas can swim backwards.

Belugas Love to Eat. 

Imagine 60 pounds of spaghetti. That’s enough to feed 600 people. To a beluga whale, that’s three square meals. Each whale consumes approximately this much food every day, mainly focusing on cod, herring, salmon, squid, shrimp and crabs. They don’t chew their foot, instead swallowing it whole. 

Belugas Are Called the “Canaries of the Sea.”

Belugas are known for their distinctive squeaks, pops, whistles and chirps - it’s how they communicate with other whales in their vicinity. In fact, they’re one of the most vocal whale species.

Females Give Birth Every Three Years.

Pregnancy is about 14 months for mama belugas, with a nursing period of about 18 months. Following this calendar, the female gives birth approximately every three years. 

Belugas Are Shape-Shifters. 

That distinctive bulbous forehead is actually called a “melon.” And, believe it or not, by blowing air around in its sinus cavities, a beluga can change the shape of its forehead. Furthermore, a beluga’s neck vertebrae are not fused, so it’s able to turn its head up, down and side to side, unlike other whales. 

Now’s the Time to See Them.

With climate change, hunting, oil and gas spills and pollution, beluga whales face significant environmental threats. (Their natural predators include polar bears and orcas within the Arctic habitat.) Conservation-minded travel companies can get you up close and personal with belugas, while educating you on how we can best protect their lives and environment.  

Ready to see those beloved belugas for yourself? Let’s chat.  You can sign up to schedule a consultation or sign up for my weekly newsletter for more inspiration.