One of the smallest whale species, the extremely social beluga lives in pods that usually have about a dozen members but can grow to hundreds of individuals. These white whales are born gray or even brown and slowly fade to white during sexual maturity. Dubbed a “sea canary,” the beluga has the loudest song of any toothed whale, complete with clicks, whistles and clangs that travel for miles and make boat hulls vibrate.
Unfortunately, belugas sit at the top of an ailing food chain. The whales depend on Arctic cod, a fish unrivaled in abundance and nutrition for belugas. In turn, the cod relies on small crustaceans, called copepods, which feed off the algae that grow on sea ice. Warmer temperatures mean less sea ice, causing a ripple effect that travels up the food chain from the algae to the beluga.
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