Image # 4508
This captive Beluga whale is observing an aquarium visitor. To survive in the icy waters of the Arctic, Beluga whales depend on their thick skin and three-inch layer of insulating fat. Although they can become trapped in thick ice, they are able to use the dorsal ridges on their backs to break through thinner surface ice. Belugas were once endangered by the whaling industry but today it is the bioaccumulation of mercury, DDT, PCB's and other fat-soluble toxins in their environment that threatens their health. Because they communicate and navigate primarily through echolocation, they are also adversely affected by noise pollution in the St. Lawrence River.