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Monday, June 4, 2012

Baby Beluga

The basics are that the male and females undergo $exual reproduction once they have reached maturity. For females, maturity is obtained between 4-7 years, but for males, maturity occurs between 6-9 years old. Then, during the spring or early summer they will breed in small bays and may mate with many different partners. Gestation lasts 12-14 months and once born the female will not mate for 2 - 4 years afterwards. The calves are always born singly and have no interaction with the fathers.

     The interactions during birth are quite fascinating. When the female is in labor many other female belugas come and act as "midwives" to help during the birth. The calf can be born either tail or head first. Once the 4 foot calf is born, the "midwives" may help the young beluga to the surface for it's first breaths. Then the calf must get milk from the mother to get the fat and nutrients from it. The beluga's milk is green and is made up of 25% fat to help the calf form blubber to stay warm in the Arctic waters. An interesting fact to know is that baby belugas are not born white. They are born a grey-blue and lighten as they get older, which is one way to distinguish age. The other ways of distinguishing age are, calculating with the curve of their fins, and the rings of Beluga's teeth are much like tree rings. Each year the beluga creates two small growth rings that allow age distinguishing as well. Generally, the average lifespan is around 40 years.

    The bond between a mother and her calf is easily the strongest tie within the beluga's lives. Mothers that have lost their calves for some reason or another, have been seen carrying buoys and other floating objects to act as their lost calf.
Beluga Newborn

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