The Beluga Whale on the left from the Point Defiance Zoo displays its charming smile and the enlarged melon considered to be responsible for the animals enhanced vocal abilities. On the right a mother and her calf cavort in the gray waters off the coast of Key Peninsula, Alaska in a place aptly named Beluga Point. These white whales begin life dark gray to bluish in color.

Sure, humpbacks and orcas get all the attention but when it comes to pure personable charm nobody beats the beluga whale. They are rare visitors to our Northwest shores but they have popped up from time to time. They have also been recorded swimming up larger rivers such as the St Lawrence Seaway and even as far south as Japan. Nicknamed the “sea canary” because of the range of sounds they make, belugas also possess the distinction of being able to bob their heads up and down. This endearing characteristic is due to the fact that unlike other cetaceans their neck vertebrae are not fused together. Belugas are toothed whales that feed on fish and crustaceans and belong to the same family of cetaceans as the narwhal, another very unique animal.

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