What Do Beluga Whales Eat? Are They Carnivorous?

Beluga whales eat small fishes and marine invertebrates. Besides, they also feed on phytoplanktons. Grown-up beluga whales hunt their prey using echolocation, suction, and water jet features. Beluga calves are fed on the secretion of their mother beluga’s mammary glands.

Aren’t you fascinated to know about the food habits of beluga whales? In this article, I will discuss numerous aspects of their diet and food source. Continue scrolling to learn everything about beluga whales’ eating habits.

Are Beluga Whales Carnivorous?

Yes. Beluga whales are carnivorous.

Carnivorous means the attributes of an animal or plant to eat another animal. Beluga whales generally depend on other small marine creatures for food. However, their diet also consists of phytoplanktons. Still, as they feed on other animals, they are termed carnivorous.

What Do Beluga Whales Eat?

Beluga whales have a very special diet and are termed, opportunistic feeders. Almost 100 different kinds of primary bottom-dwelling animals are on their diet list.

Generally, beluga whales eat snails, octopuses, krills, crabs, sandworms, etc. Moreover, a few small fishes such as cos, herring, capelin, salmon, eulachon, flounder, and smelt are also on their food list.

What Are Beluga Whales’ Favorite Food?

Beluga whales love any type of fish. Among their diverse diet, they are very fond of fish and anything with fish flavor.

Their favorite snack is Horse mackerel. It consists of 1-5 random fish and provides a wide range of minerals such as junk, ore, and gems.

How Much Does Beluga Eat?

Beluga whales can eat approximately 2.5% to 3% of their body weight per day, which is almost 18.2 to 27.2 kg.

On average, beluga whales have a body weight of 1400 kg. But their size may differ from one to another beluga whale. However, they eat almost 40 lb to 100 lb of food daily according to their size.

How Often Do Beluga Whales Eat?

Generally, beluga whales eat around 3 times a day. But it’s not the same for all.

Beluga whales’ size and weight vary from one to another. Also, their habits and activities are not the same.

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That’s why it’s obvious that their food demand will also vary. Though in general cases, they eat 3 times a day, it can be more or less depending on their physical conditions.

How Do Beluga Hunt Food?

Beluga whales hunt at or near the bottom of shallow water. They have echolocation features, which enable them to use sounds to detect the location of prey around them.

As beluga whales hunt in pods of five or more, they can easily herd their prey into a tight ball. Then, they can isolate their prey and attack them.

Beluga whales’ seven vertebrae of the neck are not fused. As a result, they have very flexible necks, which allow a wide range of motion when they roam near the seafloor.

Besides, beluga whales can generate suction and a jet of water with their mouth. These activities help them in dislodging prey from the bottom.

Does Beluga Have Predators?

Yes, beluga whales have predators. Killer whales and polar bears are the most common among those predators.

Moreover, humans have also been hunting beluga whales for centuries. Although it’s illegal, people still hunt Beluga in a few areas.

Killer whales live in arctic water along with beluga whales. A Group of killer whales can easily take down both adult and young beluga whales.

Killer whales have dorsal fins, which beluga’s don’t. This prevents killer whales from getting too close to the surface ice, which is advantageous.

During winter, when parts of arctic water freeze, many beluga whales can get stuck under sheets of ice. Polar bears can smell these trapped belugas.

When they detect a trapped beluga, they can pull their bodies onto the ice for a delicious dinner. They even can pull bodies of weight up to 2000 pounds.

What Do Baby Beluga Whales Eat?

Baby beluga whales eat small fish and shrimp. Their teeth are underdeveloped, so they can’t eat the usual food as adult beluga whales.

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For the first 20-24 months, baby calves depend upon nursing by mother beluga whales for food. After this period, they supplement their diet with crabs, shrimps, or other small fishes.

But their primary food plants are primarily herbivores. This is suitable for their undeveloped small teeth. However, they are often found to eat pretty small marine creatures.

Do Baby Beluga Hunt Food?

Baby beluga can hunt food, but not within 20-24 months of birth.

Mother beluga feeds their calves with their mammary glands for the first 1-2 years. That’s why baby beluga whales don’t need to hunt for food. However, by observing or mimicking, young belugas learn survival behaviors from adult belugas in their pods. After a certain period, they become capable of hunting their food.

How Big Are Beluga Whales?

Adult beluga whales’ weight ranges from 1000-3300 pounds on average. Female beluga whales are smaller than male beluga whales. While a male beluga whale can be between 11-15 feet, a female beluga whale’s length can rarely be more than 12 feet.

How big is a full-grown beluga whale?

Beluga whales can grow up to 4000 pounds or 1800 kg. Generally, male beluga whales seem to be 25% larger than female ones.

A male beluga whale grows up to 11 to 18 feet. Besides, its average weight can be approximately 2500 to 3500 pounds or 1100 to 1600 kg.

On the other hand, female adult beluga whales have a length between 10 to 13 feet, and their weight varies from 1500 to 2500 pounds or 700 to 1100 kg.

How Big Is A Newborn Baby Beluga?

Indeed, a newborn baby beluga is way smaller than a grown-up beluga. But the size of newborn beluga may differ.

In the wild, newborn baby belugas have an average length of 1.6 meters (5.2 feet). Besides, they weigh about 176 pounds(80kg) now.

On the contrary, marine park-born baby beluga whales can be 1.5 meters (5 feet) long at birth. Here, weight can range from 119-140 pounds (54-64 kg).

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Do Beluga Whales Eat Polar Bears?

No, beluga whales don’t eat polar bears. Rather, polar bears are the predators of beluga whales.

Beluga whales’ teeth are not sharp enough to attach to polar bears. Besides, they have narrow throats and can’t even swallow polar bears. However, polar bears have sharp teeth and enough power to attack beluga whales, lift them on ice and eat them.

Do Belugas Eat Penguins?

No, beluga whales don’t eat penguins. The main reason behind this can be they live in the northern hemisphere, while penguins live in the southern hemisphere.

Beluga whales’ diet is adapted to survive by eating foods available in their surroundings. Hence, penguins don’t fall between their diet lists. Also, the beluga swallows food as a whole, and they cannot swallow penguins.

Do Beluga Whales Eat Jellyfish?

As opportunistic feeders, they can eat anything available to them while hunting. There is no strong record to claim that beluga whales eat jellyfish. But they are capable of eating jellyfish.

Beluga whales have quite a diverse diet as they eat a large variety of marine creatures. As a jellyfish’s body is almost 95% water, it can’t serve essential nutrients needed for beluga whales. However, due to a gelatinous body, it’s easy for belugas to swallow and digest jellyfish as a whole.

Do Beluga Whales Eat Meat?

Yes, beluga whales are termed carnivorous. Hence, they eat the meat of small marine animals.

Beluga whales mainly eat phytoplanktons around them. They are also very fond of eating small fish and marine creatures, making them carnivores. Hence, technically they are fed on the meat of small marine creatures.

Final Words

Beluga whales are one of the most mysterious and adorable creatures in the ocean. It isn’t easy to assume their behavior. If you have been here from the start, I hope all of your confusion about beluga whales’ eating habits is gone now.

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