“The smiling whale needs protection to survive”

While most whales “smiles” are fixed, the extra movement afforded by the Beluga’s unfused cervical vertebrae allows a greater range of apparent expression.  Belugas are critically endangered. With more found in aquariums are caught in the wild, though captive breeding programs than in the wild. They have the dubious honor of being the first whale species to be kept”successfully” in captivity.

Beluga whale

The Beluga or White Whale (Delphinapterus leucas) is an Arctic and sub-Arctic species of cetacean. It is one of two members of the family Monodontidae, along with the Narwhal. This marine mammal is commonly referred to simply as the Beluga or Sea Canary due to its high-pitched twitter.[3] It is up to 5 meters (16 ft) in length and an unmistakable all-white color with a distinctive protuberance on the head.

Belugas can be trained to retrieve. Both the United States Navy and the Russian Navy have used Belugas in anti-mining operations in Arctic waters. In one instance, a captive Beluga helped bring a distressed diver who was performing a stunt in his pool up to the surface, possibly saving the diver’s life.

Only about 300 individuals remain!

Already on the brink of extinction, the beluga is now facing multiple new threats – increased oil and gas drilling, port expansions, and the proposed Chuitna Coal Strip Mine, just 45 miles west of Anchorage, Alaska.

 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Service has proposed designating more than 3,000 square miles of ocean as critical habitat for the critically endangered Cook Inlet population of the beluga whale.

March 3rd is the deadline for the comment period – let them know that designating critical habitat would be a crucial first step in protecting this iconic species.

Please sign our petition today to protect critical habitat these magnificent and endangered whales need to survive.

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of  http://www.sierraclub.org

Excerpts courtesy of  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beluga_whale

Image courtesy of   http://www.solarnavigator.net/animal_kingdom/animal_images/whale_beluga_surfaced.jpg

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