Are Beluga Whales Smarter Than Humans?

No, belugas whales are not smarter than humans, although they are considered one of the most intelligent animals on earth. It’s true that they have bigger brains than human brains, but it doesn’t prove that they are smarter enough than humans.

However, scientific reports on belugas suggest their brain have unique qualities. This article unveils how intelligent belugas are and whether they are smarter than humans or not. So, let’s get started!

Are Beluga Whales Intelligent?

Yes, Beluga Whales are very intelligent creatures. Many of their behaviors demonstrate how smart they are.

For instance, they create different types of bubbles during play to communicate. This proves how their ways of communication resemble that of humans.

The cognitive abilities of the beluga whale are demonstrated in a video that shows a whale bobbing its head to the beat of the music playing outside its tank. This shows that belugas are vocal learners, just like humans.

The ability to perceive beats and dance to them was once attributed to humans. It is composed of complex processes, such as responding appropriately to music. Belugas rely on prediction and expectations for this. ~ Aniruddh Patel (neurobiologist)

Learned cultural traditions are another fascinating behavior demonstrating how intelligent beluga whales are.

These smart creatures pass family traditions down generation after generation within their pod.

Hence, belugas can store a lot of knowledge in their memories. They are also naturally curious creatures who cannot survive in captivity.

Are Beluga Whales Smarter Than Humans: How Smart are Belugas Compared to Humans?

No, beluga whales are not more intelligent than humans. I mentioned earlier that they have a bigger brain size compared to humans, but that does not make them smarter or dumber.

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A human brain weighs 2.75 lbs, while a beluga whale’s brain weighs 4.5 lbs. Belugas are very curious creatures, just like humans.

Note: The brain size does not represent a creature’s intelligence level. Instead, intelligence is based on their interactions with conspecifics and other animals.

intelligent beluga

What Makes A Beluga Whale So Smart?

Belugas have excellent communication and mental representation abilities. Their intelligence has been linked to a large number of folds in their neocortex.

The neocortex is the part of the brain responsible for perception, communication, reasoning, thinking, and emotions. More folds of the neocortex mean belugas have more processing elements. ~

Beluga Whales process auditory and visual information in a different way than humans. This is because the parts of the neocortex that process sound and vision are adjacent to each other.

In humans, however, auditory and visual information must pass through brain territory before the organization.

This explains why scientists believe that sound and visual information are interchangeable for whales. Because of their extensive brain power, belugas tend to be very curious about their environment.

What’s The IQ of a Beluga Whale?

The IQ of a beluga has been estimated to be near 155. However, this is confined to individual processes such as problem-solving in threatening situations and food availability.

Scientists have trained animals in different ways to sharpen their senses and measure their problem-solving capabilities.

Note: IQ represents the ability to solve problems. It’s a scale designed for humans, making it difficult to accurately measure animals’ intelligence using IQ.

Are Beluga Whales Smarter Than Dogs?

It is very difficult to compare animals regarding intelligence; however, behavioral and physical evidence suggests belugas are much smarter than dogs.

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Dogs can be trained to perform tricks. With strategic use of reinforcement, dogs can be taught to respond to their owner’s call, detect certain cancers, and even sniff out explosives.

But Beluga Whales are not so far behind. Although there hasn’t been extensive research on beluga’s expression of intelligence, they are known to consolidate memories.

On the other hand, if reinforcement is not provided repeatedly, dogs tend to forget their training!

Are Beluga Whales Smarter Than Orcas?

The lack of research on beluga whales makes it hard to determine whether they are smarter than orcas or not. If you consider brain size to answer this question, then I think they are both smarter because they both have large brains.

Note: Orcas are known for their emotional and social behavior. After sperm whales, orcas have the largest brains in the animal kingdom (weighing as much as 15 pounds) ~ (Source).

Orcas are high in cortical thickness, which enhances brain functions. Cortical thickness measures the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that regulates memory, language, attention, and consciousness. ~

The insula in orcas’ brains is the most developed in the world. It is responsible for emotions such as compassion, perception, empathy, self-awareness, and motor control.

So, orcas tend to be more emotional and empathetic compared to beluga whales. When it comes to the fact of ‘smartness’, they are both the same.

beluga feeding

Are Beluga Whales Smarter Than Dolphins?

Both dolphins and belugas are smart. Scientists cannot make a definite conclusion about whether belugas are smarter than dolphins.

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Dolphins are known for their social and friendly behavior. They establish friendships just like humans do.

There have been multiple reports on the helping behavior of these friendly animals. Single dolphins have helped other dolphins in need, and some have even mourned dead dolphins by interacting with their corpses. (Source)

On the other hand, belugas have demonstrated empathetic and open-minded behavior toward animals of other species.

Some scientists discovered a narwhal traveling with a pod of belugas. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the narwhal had been adopted by these belugas and took part in their social interactions. ~

Are Beluga Whales Self-aware?

Yes, Beluga whales are definitely self-aware creatures. The numerous folds in their neocortex don’t just make them more intelligent, but also enhance their self-awareness. 

Scientific evidence has shown that whales are conscious creatures and are self-aware too. They can experience a range of emotions and often live in close-knit societies called pods.

Evidence also suggests that whales can exhibit grief, love, and empathy. Their complex brain structure, curious nature, and high intelligence are all indicators of self-awareness.


It was once believed that intelligence is attributed to humans only. But recent research has proven otherwise. Beluga whales are not just smart creatures, they are also capable of showing emotion. However, far more research needs to be conducted on these fascinating creatures to unveil their true nature. I hope this article cleared your doubts regarding beluga whales and their intelligence level compared to humans.

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