Belugas in the wild are a truly cosmopolitan species – they inhabit a wide variety of areas in the Arctic, from the deep ocean to coastal waters and estuaries. They often visit shallow river mouths and are known to swim up rivers in search of food, and have also been found diving in deep submarine trenches. When Arctic ice starts to form in the fall, belugas leave their summer homes of bays, fjords, and estuaries to venture into the cold Arctic Ocean. They overwinter in polynyas (areas of open water surrounded by sea ice), near the edges of pack ice, or in areas of shifting ice where plenty of ocean is still available.
In captivity, there is no variation in the belugas’ habitat, and they do not migrate. They stay in a concrete tank their entire lives and do not experience the freezing and thawing cycle of their native Arctic home. There are no summers spent in estuaries, and no deep dives through seemingly bottomless trenches. Being taken from the wild means they will never again experience the natural changes and rhythms of the ocean.
Each week, we will ask our supporters to join us in sending a message to one of Georgia Aquarium’s sponsors: that wild belugas do not belong in captivity, and they should not support an organization that seeks to imprison these amazing, charismatic, and wide-roaming beings.
This week, please join Whale and Dolphin Conservation in telling AT&T that “it’s better to be free.” Visit their facebook page to send them a message (just copy & paste, if you’d like): “AT&T- you say you strive to be sustainable! NOAA has said taking belugas from Russia is NOT sustainable! Say NO to sponsoring the Georgia Aquarium! Wild Russian belugas don’t belong in captive US tanks. It’s better to be free!”
Thank you for your support in keeping belugas wild, safe, and free. Check back next week for a new beluga fact & another action alert!