Canaries of the Sea – Beluga Whales

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Protect the ocean and you protect yourself. ~Jean-Michel Cousteau

Photo: Ocean Futures Society

Beluga whales are sometimes called canaries of the sea because they seem to sing…

There are places on this planet where it’s a marvel that anything survives. But in the cold Arctic waters of the far north, the sea is alive with sound. The canaries of the sea are singing. They’re beluga whales, named from the Russian word for “white ones.” They’re an evolutionary surprise—a warm-blooded mammal in a numbingly cold sea. Resembling curious ghosts, these intelligent mammals use one of the most complex sonars of any animal.

Belugas inhabiting Cook Inlet, close to Anchorage, were added to the list of endangered species in October 2008. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated that a decade-long recovery program had failed to ensure the whales’ survival. The relationship between people and belugas is ancient. For more than 4,000 years, hunters of the north have depended on these whales for their own survival in a land with little to offer. These traditional cultures have now partnered with scientists and modern technology to protect the beluga, which in turn, ensures their own future. Yet these efforts are only a small part of the story as new discoveries have raised troubling questions about the health of belugas and their long-term survival. ~via Ocean Futures Society

Explore the human connection to Beluga Whales in Cousteau’s one-hour PBS Special Sea Ghosts.

“I’ve always said that if you protect the ocean you protect yourself and it’s never been more true, especially when you think about belugas and contaminants and the implications for human health. But maybe it is worth protecting the beluga just for its own sake, for the beauty of its songs, and for the warmth of its social groups, and for their lifelong bonds to each other in the cold Arctic Ocean. Maybe protecting the beluga for its own sake improves us and helps us to define who we are. Protecting the beauty and wonder of these creatures and the natural world may be as essential to our spirit as food is to our bodies. I believe it’s important after all, that the sea continues to be filled with these songs.” ~ Jean-Michel Cousteau.

About Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society.
Their mission is to explore our global ocean, inspiring and educating people throughout the world to act responsibly for its protection, documenting the critical connection between humanity and nature, and celebrating the ocean’s vital importance to the survival of all life on our planet. You can help by donating to Ocean Futures Society today. Get action alerts and more by becoming a member. Its free!

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3 Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by, Kate Redman, Angela H, Ani Chime, Bonnie J Preston, pam jones and others. pam jones said: RT @DianeN56: Canaries of the Sea – Beluga Whales #ic4me @JMCousteau RT @IC4ME RT @sierraactivist […]

  2. This was such a great post. I’ve always been fascinated by beluga whales and it’s great to see native populations agreeing to work with others to make sure they come back from the brink!

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