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Beluga Whale

             Reason for endangered classification.
             The Beluga whale belongs to the order of Cetaces. This order is further divided into three suborders: the toothed whales, or Odontoceti, the baleen whales, or Mysticeti, and the Archaeoceti. The Beluga is a member of the Odontoceti. Its' family name is Monodontidae. Its genus name is Dephinapteres leucas, which means "dolphin without a fin." The species name leucas, means "white." The Beluga is derived from the Russian word Belukha.
             Beluga or "white whales" are not born white. They are gray and get lighter until approximately age six, when they are completely white. This lightening is caused by a reduction of melanin in the skin. Adults are yellowish-white to creamy white. They attain their whiteness upon reaching sexual maturity. Males reach sexual maturity at 8 or 9 years, while females become sexually mature at from 4 to 7 years of age.
             The male averages between 11.2 feet and 15.1 feet with a weight of about 3,307. The Beluga reaches its full sizes at the age of 10 years.
             The Beluga whale lives in the arctic and sub-arctic northern waters around the globe. They are one of three types of whales who spend their entire lives in the arctic. They inhabit the Arctic Ocean and its seas including the Sea of Okhotsk, the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, the Beaufort Sea, Baffin Bay, Hudson Bay, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. During the summer months most Beluga's inhabit the icy waters of the arctic and sub arctic. They swim among the icebergs and ice flows.
             In summer months most of the population is found in warm water estuaries and river basins. The Beluga is well adapted to both cold ocean habitats and warmer freshwater habitats. Not all Beluga's make seasonal migration. Their environment determined their behavior. Most travel south as the ice pack advances in the autumn. There is one population that spends their summer in the Mackenie River estuary of the Northwest Territories, Canada and migrates 5,000-km southwest to coastal areas of the Bering ea.

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