The birth of babies is contributing to global warming

Animal children: Sociable belugas

Belugas already weigh 50 kilograms at birth. This makes the baby beluga one of the big ones among the little ones in the world of animal children

Belugas are very sociable animals. In the polar seas off the coasts of Alaska, Canada and Russia they live in large communities of mostly ten whales. If there is enough food in the habitat, there can be hundreds.

Belugas come together especially during the mating season between April and June. Thousands of them gather in the shallow waters of fjords and bays to produce offspring. The females become sexually mature at the age of five. Then they lure the males in the shallow and warm water with loud calls. The great variety of their acoustic signals once gave the belugas the name of the "canaries of the seas". With their song, the beluga not only warn of enemies, such as the orcas, but also woo each other. After the playful circling of the belugas, they mate.

After a gestation period of almost 15 months, the offspring submerge in the sea. When he was born, the 1.50 meter tall beluga boy weighed between 50 and 70 kilograms. But even though it is already so big, the baby is still completely dependent on its mother. Immediately after the birth, she wears it to the surface for her first breaths. In the following weeks, too, the young whale always stays by the side of its mother, who glides protectively through the water next to him.

The warming rays of the sun also protect the little ones in the shallow water. In contrast to the adult animals, the offspring does not yet have an insulating layer of fat. His mother is protected against the cold by a layer of fat up to 22 centimeters thick, which makes up half of her body weight.

But the young beluga is also gaining weight quickly. The mother nurses her young with her fatty milk until he is two years old. Only then do his teeth break through. While the big ones feed on mussels, cod and squid, the younger ones prefer crustaceans. Together they look for food on the sea floor. Therefore, the beluga also belongs to the family of the gray whale. Until the young one reaches the weight of a fully grown beluga of up to 1000 kilograms, there are still many marine animals on his menu.

Blue beluga whales

Not only does the weight of the little whale change, but also its color. At birth, the beluga, which is also known as the white whale, is actually still white, but gray-brown. Only after a year does his skin turn blue. Up to the age of five, the belugas are therefore referred to as "blues". While the females often keep a bluish tinge, the male beluga is characterized by its characteristic white color from then on.

In this way, the belugas are optimally adapted to their habitat. Their white color camouflages them in the pack ice from polar bears and other enemies. But the beluga, which can live to be 30 years old, is not only threatened by its natural enemies. The increasing shipping traffic and hunters of the unique whale also pose a danger. Today, only 50,000 to 80,000 belugas live in the seas, and thousands of them come together every year in early summer to give birth to young beluga whales.