Beluga Physical Characteristics

Beluga whales have stout bodies, well defined necks and a disproportionately small head with a well defined beak and a prominent bulge or "melon". They have short but broad paddle shaped flippers, no dorsal fin, a narrow ridged back and a broad tail fluke with a deeply notched center.

Adult beluga whales grow to lengths of 10-16 feet (3-5 m), and can weigh up to 3300 lbs (1500 kg). Males grow slightly larger than females.

Color varies with age. Calves are a reddish-brown at birth and remain so throughout the first year; during the second year this color slowly transforms to a marbled blue gray. In the following 3 years the color slowly fades as pigment is lost from the skin. By 6 years of age, belugas have attained their characteristic creamy white adult color.

The gestation period (length of pregnancy) for beluga whales is 14 months. Young are approximately 48 inches (120 cm), and weigh 100 lbs (45 kg) at birth.

Belugas are thought to live to 35-50 years of age.

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