Belugas are a medium sized whale with a circumpolar Arctic and sub-Arctic distribution. This species, nicknamed the ‘canary of the sea’ because of their complex and musical underwater vocalizations, is one of few whales that live year-round in the north. They spend the winter in dense, moving pack ice and the summer months in comparatively warm costal waters and river estuaries. Occurring in high densities in the western and eastern Canadian Arctic, there are seven stocks identified in Canadian waters totaling an estimated 70% of the global popualtion with more than half of the Canadian population residing in Hudson Bay in the summer season.
Narwhal are a medium sized whale with a semi-circumpolar Arctic distribution, inhabiting waters off the coast of Canada, Greenland and northern Europe. Along with beluga and bowhead whales, this species lives in the north year-round. They spend the winter in dense, moving pack ice and the summer months in fjords and deeper coastal waters. Occurring in high densities in the eastern Canadian High Arctic, there are only two stocks identified in Canadian waters contributing to a global population of around 100,000 animals. Narwhal are born with tooth buds and generally in males one erupts from the jaw and continues to grow for the life of the animal creating the characteristic tusk that the species is known for.
Studies related to beluga and narwhal population size, habitat preference and health are occurring across Canada and the circumpolar Arctic. Find links to past and current research and news stories by clinking the link below. This section will be updated as new papers and stories emerge.