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They are opportunistic feeders and their diets vary according to their locations and the season.
The majority of belugas live in the Arctic Ocean and the seas and coasts around North America, Russia and Greenland; their worldwide population is thought to number around 150,000.
This marine mammal is commonly referred to as the beluga, melonhead, or sea canary due to its high-pitched twitter.
It is adapted to life in the Arctic, so has anatomical and physiological characteristics that differentiate it from other cetaceans.
Amongst these are its all-white colour and the absence of a dorsal fin.
It is one of two members of the family Monodontidae, along with the narwhal, and the only member of the genus Delphinapterus.
The beluga's body size is between that of a dolphin's and a true whale's, with males growing up to 5.5 m (18 ft) long and weighing up to 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). A large percentage of its weight is blubber, as is true of many cetaceans.
Its sense of hearing is highly developed and its echolocation allows it to move about and find blowholes under sheet ice.
The native peoples of North America and Russia have hunted belugas for many centuries.
They are migratory and the majority of groups spend the winter around the Arctic ice cap; when the sea ice melts in summer, they move to warmer river estuaries and coastal areas.
Some populations are sedentary and do not migrate over great distances during the year.