Subject: Beluga Whales

Kim Marshall (kimm@oceanalliance.org)
Sat, 22 May 1999 23:08:57 GMT

Question:
While visiting the Shed Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois several weeks ago.  We
>noticed  that when the Belugas came to the surface to breath they also
>exhaled a circle of bubbles from their mouths.  It seemed as though they were
>playing with these rings of "air".  If they liked them, they would let them
>fall in the water until at the last moment prior to hitting the floor of the
>tank,  they would break these rings with their tails.  If they didn't like
>the shape of the ring they would immediately break the ring with their heads.
>Do you know if this is a natural manerism of all Beluga whales or just these
>at the Shed Aquarium.
>
Reply:
Hello Dave and Ann, I have seen Belugas engaging in this kind of behavior
in captivity and it truly shows their level of creativity and what I
believe is higher intelligence.  I believe that in the wild Beluga whales
do use bubbles as some form of communication either as play or dominance
displays etc.  It seems that they have taken a natural behavior and
modified it to intertain themselves.  To find out more about beluga whales
please search WhaleNet's Species/Classification/Behavior information page
at http://whale.wheelock.edu/whalenet-stuff/classifications.html.  Thank
you. Kim

Kim Marshall-Tilas
Whale Conservation Institute/Ocean Alliance
191 Weston Road
Lincoln, MA  01773
(781) 259-0423
fax: 259-0288
website: http://www.oceanalliance.org