Their feeding dives last anywhere from three to five minutes, although one individual was seen remaining underwater for twenty minutes and diving to a depth of 2,123 feet. In fact, the name beluga comes from the Russian word bieluii, which means ‘white.’ While belugas are also commonly called the ‘white whales,’ they are not the same animal as the white whale described by Herman Melville in Moby Dick (that was an albino sperm whale). The polar bear population is predicted to decrease by 30% by 2050. And there she is: creamy white, sleek, floating gently toward you, head tilted. Polar Bears have been known for killing Beluga Whales but Killer Whales are almost twice the average size of Beluga Whale so there is no chance for a Polar Bear to kill a Killer Whale. What makes the Beluga Boat so unique is our ability to share the whales with thousands of people around the world via live Beluga Cams in partnership with explore.org. Research Researchers now collect information on the social behavior and structure of the pods, wounds, the healing process, threats, and the overall health of the beluga population. Gestation lasts about one year. media@pbears.org Each summer as the sea ice in Hudson Bay diminishes, eventually melting entirely, the polar bears who had spent their winter on the ice hunting for seals now find themselves forced to shore, where they will wait patiently until the fall when the bay freezes again. We welcome all media inquiries. When the Beluga Bits project started in 2016, the main goal was to find out if the same whales were returning to the estuary every year. ; On the other hand Killer Whales being large in size and efficient hunter of most of the marine animals can easily kill a polar bear in water. See both below and decide which you’d prefer your kids or grandkids to watch. . The beluga is widely, though not uniformly, distributed throughout the seasonally ice-covered Arctic and sub-Arctic waters off the coasts of North America, Asia, Europe, Svalbard, and Greenland. See & Hear Dozens of Belugas Up CloseMore than 3,000 gentle beluga whales enter the Churchill River each summer—come within arm's reach by Zodiac and kayak, and listen to their songs via hydrophone Search for Polar Bears by Helicopter Look for roving polar bears on a scenic flight over the tundra and taiga forest—the only way to survey this roadless wilderness terrain There appears to be a high level of communication between pod members, and while facial expressions may be a form of communication, they are mainly related to sound production. These facts, combined with the natural curiosity of polar bears, often leads them to the town of Churchill where every once in a while, a bear will go unnoticed, slipping into the town limits. In Kaktovik researchers found out that a group of 3 – 4 polar bears were feeding on a dead carcass of a beluga whale just like the scavengers in the African savannah. Thousands of beluga whales congregate in the Hudson Bay each summer, and you’ll see and hear hundreds of them both from the air on the flight to and from the … Beluga young are weaned between one and a half and two years of age. As it grows older, it turns mottled and yellowish, and then a pure white. Beluga whales are very social animals, and most parts of the year, they congregate in social units, or pods, of about 10 individuals led by a single large male. More importantly, there is a much better video of the action that is both more informative and truthful. Many fish species, such as herring, cod, and salmon, as well as invertebrates, such as octopus, squid, crab, and snails, are taken. Take a Zodiac tour to learn about beluga whales from expert guides. At Polar Bears International we work to inspire people to care about the Arctic. It also has a rounded melon on its head, which is thought by some to focus echolocation tones. Continue reading When born, the calves are dark brown or black in color. The beluga travels in schools of a few individuals up to the thousands; the large schools, however, are seldom seen today. On this seven-day journey, discover the beauty and magnitude of Churchill, Manitoba—a remote town on the banks of the Hudson Bay renown for hosting polar bears and beluga whales. This is the moment when divers, swimming with beluga whales, were asked to get out of the water. In its mouth, 38 spoon-shaped teeth are present. This adventure takes you off-the-beaten path to some of the best scenery in the world! The Polar bear leaps from a rock in an attempt to catch a beluga whale (Image: BBC) Read More Related Articles. It also has a rounded melon on its head, which is thought by some to focus echolocation tones. info@pbears.org If stranded, it can often survive until the next high tide. Alex De Vries – Magnifico photo. A pod will hunt and migrate as a group, and during migration or periods of great food abundance, groups of up to 10,000 belugas have been reported. Secret life of grave-robbing … Climate Change The Beluga whale is a toothed whale without a dorsal fin. Churchill has more than one Polar Bear season! The most striking characteristic of the beluga whale is its ghost-white coloring. I feel fortunate that, for two months every summer, my world revolves around the river and the whales, and the Beluga Boat becomes my second home. That’s after polar bears had already killed about 19 belugas. Once you’ve done the appropriate wetsuit wiggle (or drysuit dance? The beluga’s body is stout and has a small, blunt head with a small beak, tiny eyes, and a thick layer of blubber. Churchill, Manitoba, is known worldwide for its polar bears, but for a brief window every summer, the beluga whales take over—an astonishing scene as they flood into the Churchill River estuary and surround the shorelines of Hudson Bay, their numbers reaching into the thousands. We actually walk with polar bears during the summer, and you will too! Please note that a medical and evacuation insurance is required for this tour. A baby calf beluga swimming in his mother’s slipstream to stay close. Belugas are very small, beautiful whales found only in Arctic waters. In the summer, in addition to our Beluga Boat tour, we have a longer Hudson Bay Coastal Boat Tour that goes out into the Hudson Bay for several hours where you can also see super pods of Beluga Whales as well as Polar Bears swimming in the water to cool off and hanging out or sunbathing by the shore. The ice-free period now lasts, on average, three weeks longer than it did in the 1980’s! It’s safe to say beluga whales and polar bears are a part of my life now, and my only regret is this wasn’t the case sooner. Steve Selden photo. “The polar bears have calmed down now after landing 19 whales themselves,” Arragutainaq said Feb. 14. Calving occurs between April and September, and the young weigh about 154 pounds at birth. Belugas are relatively slow swimmers, with speeds of about two to six miles per hour. Wintering sites can be either north or south of summering sites, and either closer to or farther from shore. In fact, the beluga was nicknamed the ‘sea canary’ by the whalers of old, who could hear its squeaks and cries through the wooden hulls of their boats. It is safe to say the bears are hungry and have a lot of time to kill while they wait. In swimming the polar bear uses only its front limbs, an aquatic adaptation found in no other four-legged mammal. Because of our passion for Arctic wildlife and unique home base in Churchill, Manitoba, we have partnered with Explore.org for 8 seasons to bring viewers an immersive view into the underwater world of beluga whales! In addition, unlike most other cetaceans, the beluga’s seven neck vertebrae are not fused, giving it a flexible, well-defined neck. Birds, Bears and Belugas takes place at Seal River Heritage Lodge, and combines the thrill of beluga whale watching in July and August with the adventure of Churchill Wild’s signature “on the ground” polar bear walking safaris. She squeaks out a few chirps — think of a canary — in greeting, an authentic Manitoba hello. In the brief Arctic summer in Hudson Bay they gather in their hundreds. The incident was a stern reminder of the need to be ever-vigilant even when going about your daily routine—something I never thought I would have to concern myself with growing up in southern Alberta. At Polar Bears International we want to inspire people to care about the Arctic, and through our passion for wildlife and unique home base in Churchill, Manitoba—the Polar Bear Capital of the World—we have been able to partner with Explore.org to bring viewers an immersive and inspiring view into the underwater world of beluga whales—a beloved seasonal visitor to the Churchill River estuary. Belugas are well insulated, which allows them to stay warm in the icy Arctic waters – they have an insulating layer of blubber that is usually four to six inches thick, which varies with the season and the water temperature. Seal Encounter With our unique Seal Encounter, you'll go behind the scenes of our Cold Water Quest gallery and enjoy 30 minutes with our seals in their Aquarium home. While fasting, the bears will lose around one kilogram of body weight per day. Belugas may also have the most versatile and sophisticated sonar system of any cetacean. In July, it ascends some of the northern rivers to pursue salmon that are on their way to the spawning grounds. When people think of whale watching excursions, they envision fleeting glimpses of magnificent creatures off in the distance. Luckily no one was injured and the bear was escorted out of town unharmed. As a newborn, the beluga is not white at all – it is grayish-brown in color. The polar bear uses sea ice as a platform for hunting, traveling, and some reproduction; Arctic seals, like ringed or bearded seals, use sea ice as a platform on which to rest and reproduce. Sign up to receive polar bear news and updates. e-mail us at The brief summer and hundreds of hours spent on the Beluga Boat each year is something I will look forward to as long as I can call Churchill home. Many creatures depend on sea ice for different reasons. Hunters had counted 19 beluga carcasses on the ice that had been hauled out and eaten by the polar bears. Polar Bears International, Hands-on Arctic Experience: A Churchill Student’s Dream. Rigged with above- and underwater cameras, complete with hydrophones, we have the ability to stream live footage of the whales in their natural habitat Not only are viewers able to enjoy these incredible animals interacting with the boat and their surrounding environment, but they have the opportunity to take part in a citizen science project, Beluga Bits, by taking snapshots on the explore.org site. By Kieran McIver, Churchill Operations Manager. Suit up and stand waist-deep in our beluga habitat alongside our beluga whale trainers. This is nonsense, of course: polar bears hunting beluga whales from rocks has nothing to do with climate change or desperately hungry bears. They reach a blue stage between one and two years of age, and then exist in a lighter yellow phase until they reach sexual maturity, when the white color typical of this species is achieved. fundraising@pbears.org If you are a credentialed Beluga up close and personal with snorkelers in the Churchill River. For general questions regarding Polar Bears International and our work, please contact us at Along with bears, there are hundreds of other animals and plants that call the Arctic home and are also struggling to … The beluga’s body is stout and has a small, blunt head with a small beak, tiny eyes, and a thick layer of blubber. Many of the noises made by the beluga are audible to humans. In the spring, as leads form in the pack ice and the ice retreats from the coast, some belugas migrate to relatively warm estuarine waters. The beluga has one blowhole, does not have a dorsal fin, and its tail is strongly forked. During this time, it becomes common to see the bears roaming the shorelines, sleeping among the rocks, or taking a swim in an attempt to cool off in the summer heat. Rare footage of polar bears hunting beluga whales at Seal River during the summer was captured by Australian wildlife biologist and filmmaker Chadden Hunter, and will appear in the second episode of the spectacular new BBC Earth series, Seven Worlds, One Planet. The beluga is one of the most vocal of the toothed whales. One young per birth is the rule for the beluga; females typically give birth every two to three years. Their main predators are killer whales and polar bears. This trip combines the thrill of seeing and hearing beluga whales with summer polar bear viewing on the tundra. An adult beluga will eat about two to three percent of its body weight (about 50 pounds) per day. . Copyright © 2021 Natural Habitat Adventures, Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | About Us | Contact Us, Designed by Elegant Themes | Powered by WordPress, Hudson Bay Quest 2020 – Churchill to Gillam, Churchill Photo of the Week – Creek Cabin. and my eyes are no longer solely fixed on the water. There is only one species of the beluga. . However, they are capable of short bursts of speed up to fourteen miles per hour for about 15 minutes. They are also able to show a wide array of facial expressions with the aid of their flexible melon and mouth; they may appear to smile, frown, or whistle. Killer Whales Vs Polar Bear. Prey distribution and pack ice are two factors in determining seasonal movements. Scientists believe the average lifespan of a beluga whale to be around 15 years, but some live to be 40 or 50 years of age. It wasn’t long before the research team, led by Dr. Stephen Peterson, realized there was a lot more we could learn about the belugas through this method of data accumulation. The beluga is a small toothed whale, weighing between 1,100 and 3,300 fifteen feet in length; males of this species are larger than the females. This happened for the first time this summer when a large bear was spotted on someone’s front door step. So far, the polar bears have killed mostly “calves from last spring.” It is circumpolar in distribution and lives among the icebergs and floating ice of the Arctic regions. The beluga is a small toothed whale, weighing between 1,100 and 3,300 fifteen feet in length; males of this species are larger than the females. Live Beluga Cams provide both over- and underwater views of the annual gathering of belugas in the Churchill River estuary. Calves are born with less than an inch of blubber, but they gain weight quickly while nursing on rich milk, ranging from 15 to 40 percent in fat content. B-roll, captioned photos, or further information, please Spot migrating beluga whales that look like they are from another world, watch polar bears on a specially designed tundra vehicle and capture flowering panoramas of the Arctic tundra. Southernmost sightings of the species have been in New Jersey and Puget Sound, on the east and west coasts of the U.S., and off the coast of Sakhalin Island in the Sea of Okhotsk. As their prey is aquatic, polar bears are excellent swimmers, and they are even known to kill beluga whales. These polar bears need the sea to freeze completely, so they have a solid platform from which to hunt seals and right now they're hungry. Your heart rate soars to unimaginabl… The time spent on shore between the ice break-up in summer and freeze-up in the fall is a fasting period for the bears. Belugas eat a wide variety of prey, more diverse than most cetaceans. “Some are still in the breathing hole, but there was about 20 dead belugas on the ice that were killed by the polar bears,” Sanikiluaq hunter Peter Kattuk told a CBC interviewer last Thursday. Belugas and Polar Bears By Kieran McIver, Churchill Operations Manager Churchill, Manitoba, is known worldwide for its polar bears, but for a brief window every summer, the beluga whales take over—an astonishing scene as they flood into the Churchill River estuary and surround the shorelines of Hudson Bay, their numbers reaching into the thousands. Steve Selden photo. A curious beluga whale swims close to the Beluga Boat for a better look. The pods we will see off of the port of Churchill can number in the hundreds. These animals may winter on the front of the seasonal ice pack or in polynyas – shifting areas of open water within the ice. Belugas are usually found in water temperatures below 59°F, but stragglers may wander further afield. In addition, the stomachs of belugas have been found to contain bottom-dwelling organisms. The beluga whale is one such species. What makes the Beluga Boat so unique is our ability to share the whales with thousands of people around the world via live. The melon can also be used as an indicator of health (poorly nourished belugas have low, flat melons, while well fed individuals have round melons) and of emotional state – aggressive individuals raise their melons forward. And there is a fairly good chance that you will also get to see a few Churchill Canada Polar Bears. It has a large repertoire of clicks, moos, squeaks, trills, and twitters, which can be heard above and below the surface. The whales, the bears, the town, and the people make this a truly amazing place to live or to visit—and it's one we’re committed to preserving for future generations. Polar Bears member of the media and seek to set up an interview or obtain For the whales, the Churchill estuary serves as a feeding ground, a space to rear their calves as they live out the first few months of their lives, an ideal place for their annual molt, and a sanctuary offering protection in the shallow waters from potential predators. Thanks to their sharp canines with the help of which bears can rip off chunks of whale’s flesh. A beluga whale popping out from the Churchill River near the mouth where visibility is amazing. The beluga is well adapted to living close to shore; it can swim in very shallow water and maneuver in depths barely covering its body. It is thought that belugas use echolocation to aid in the search for food. It is now early August, midway through the beluga season. For questions concerning individual giving and corporate sponsorships, please contact us at However, polar bears hunting beluga whale calves in open water is not unheard-of behaviour that has only emerged recently due to climate change: researchers in the 1980s saw bears in the Canadian Arctic hunt beluga calves close to the shore of Somerset Island in a similar if not identical manner (ironically, this is the same island where NG’s equally misleading ‘ starving’ polar bear was … ), you’ll slip onto a sturdy foam mat floating on the chilly waters at the mouth of the Churchill River, awaiting an up-close-and-personal encounter with a beluga whale. Adults are pure white in color and newborns are dark grey.