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Beluga and Narwhal: Monodontidae

Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Belugas, Narwhals, And People, Beluga (delphinapterus Leucas): Species AccountsGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS

BELUGA (Delphinapterus leucas): SPECIES ACCOUNTS

Both these species live in the Arctic oceans, although their distribution is not continuous.

Narwhals live in deep water farther north than any other whale, following the ice pack as it grows and recedes. Beluga whales live in shallower water and are sometimes found farther south. In the summer, they move into estuaries (places where rivers empty into the ocean). They can survive in fresh water and have occasionally been found swimming hundreds of miles (kilometers) up river from the ocean.

Both these species are bottom feeders, diving deep to eat squid, fish, and shrimp. Narwhals have a more limited diet than belugas.

Beluga whales are considered Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction, dying out. Not enough is known about the size of the narwhal population to give them a conservation rating. All narwhals that have been taken into captivity have lived only a few months. However, beluga whales do well in captivity and are often exhibited at marine parks.

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Animal Life ResourceMammals