Food Preferences and Resources
Beluga whales are opportunistic feeders. They prey on about 100 different kinds of primarily bottom-dwelling animals. They eat octopus; squid; crabs; snails; sandworms; and fishes such as capelin, cod, herring, smelt, and flounder.
In zoological habitats belugas eat approximately 2.5% to 3% of their body weight per day, about 18.2 to 27.2 kg (40-60 lb.).
Method of Collecting and Eating Food
Belugas forage at or near the bottom of shallow water.
A beluga whale's flexible neck allows a wide range of motion while foraging the ocean floor. Observations suggest that belugas can produce suction and a strong jet of water with their mouths which, like that of walruses, may dislodge prey from the bottom.
Beluga whales also hunt schooling fishes. In groups of five or more, belugas herd fish into shallow water before attacking.
Beluga whales don't chew their food; they swallow it whole.
Researchers have found debris such as tree bark, plants, sand, stones, and paper in the stomachs of beluga whales, probably from foraging on the bottom.