Behavior

Beluga

Behavior

Social Structure

  1. Beluga whales live in groups called pods; a pod is a cohesive social unit.
    • A pod may consist of 2 to 25 individuals; the average pod size is about 10.
    • A pod generally consists of males and females, though mothers with calves often form separate pods during the calving season. A single large male usually leads a pod.
  2. Several smaller pods may join occasionally to form larger groups of 200 to 10,000 individuals. Such herds often form during migrations.

Social Behavior

  1. Belugas are extremely social.
  2. A pod of belugas hunts and migrates together.
  3. Belugas may chase each other, either playfully or aggressively, and rub against each other.

Individual Behavior

  1. One of the most common beluga behaviors is vocalizing.
  2. During calving season, adult belugas at sea have been observed carrying objects such as planks, a seine net, and even a caribou skeleton on their heads and backs. Female belugas in zoological habitats have also been observed carrying objects, such as floats or buoys, on their heads and backs. Experts theorize that this interaction with objects may be surrogate behavior.
  3. Belugas exhibit a great deal of curiosity toward humans and often swim up to boats.
  4. Belugas do not exhibit as many aerial behaviors (jumping, breaching, etc.) as do dolphins and killer whales.

Stranding

  1. When swimming in shallow waters, belugas can become stranded at low tide. They generally survive until the next high tide and swim away unharmed.

Interaction With Other Species

  1. The beluga whales' habitat overlaps that of narwhals.
  2. Belugas often migrate with bowhead whales.