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Science And Nature

Canada’s Hudson Bay a summer refuge for a large number of belugas

Some 55,000 beluga whales migrate to Canada's Hudson Bay each summer
Some 55,000 beluga whales migrate to Canada’s Hudson Bay each summer.

Six beluga whales dive and reemerge around tourist paddle boards in Canada’s Hudson Bay, a small number of about 55,000 of the creatures that migrate from the Arctic to the bay’s more temperate waters each summer.

Definately not the Seine river in which a beluga strayed in early August north of Paris, the estuaries that flow in to the bay in northern Canada provide a sanctuary for the tiny white whales to provide birth in relative warm and shelter.

In the murky bay, the belugas, with small dark eyes and what appear to be wide smiles, appear to benefit from the presence of a cluster of tourists who travelled to the remote town of Churchillhome for some 800 people and only accessible by train or planeto take notice of the cetaceans.

For a lot more than seven months of the entire year, between November and June, the bay is frozen.

The thaw marks the return of the belugas to the haven, where they’re protected from orcas and prey on the rich food within the estuaries.

The gray color of the young whales sticks out against the white colored adults because they glide through the water in packs, even while communicating within their own selection of sounds.

Hydrophone

Nicknamed “canaries of the ocean” because of the 50 roughly different vocalizationswhistles, clicks, chirps and squealsthey emit, belugas are “social butterflies” and “sound may be the glue of this society,” said Valeria Vergara, who has been studying them for a long time.

Beluga whale
Factfile on beluga whales.

“Belugas are sound-centered species, and sound in their mind is actually like vision to us,” the researcher with the Raincoast Conservation Foundation told AFP.

Listening at the speaker of a hydrophone, the 53-year-old scientist tries to tell apart the large number of sounds from the depthsa cacophony to the untrained ear.

“They have to depend on sound to communicate plus they also depend on sound to echolocate, to get their way… to get food,” said Vergara, who has identified “contact calls” used between members of a pod.

Newborn belugas, which measure around 1.8 meters (six feet) long and weigh some 80 kilos (175 pounds), remain influenced by their mother for just two years.

Being an adult, the mammalwhich generally matures in the icy waters around Greenland and in the north of Canada, Norway and Russiacan grow to six meters long and live between 40 and 60 years.

The Hudson Bay population may be the largest on the planet.

However the reduction in ice because of climate change, within an area that’s warming 3 to 4 times faster compared to the remaining planet, is really a cause for concern for researchers.



2022 AFP

Citation: Canada’s Hudson Bay a summer refuge for a large number of belugas (2022, August 18) retrieved 18 August 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-canada-hudson-bay-summer-refuge.html

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