- Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.
There are from 40,000 to 80,000 white whales worldwide. Is that enough?
I did not see any white whales during my cruise up the arctic coast of Norway, but pods of white whales live there. White whales are considered small for whales, weighing around 3000 pounds with an average length of 12-14 feet. They can dive to a depth of over 2000 feet. They have a bulbous forehead, upward curving mouth, and a satiny white body. When I saw them glide by the viewing window, they did not seem small, they seemed very large and pitifully cramped into that small tank. And, these captive white whales lacked the bulbous foreheads of healthy animals. Can the zookeepers not see that? If they are in that tank for life, they will be there for thirty to fifty years, able to dive about 20 feet.
We have a perfectly good word to describe them, “white”, so unless one is in Russia, why use beluga which is Russian?
First known use of the term “white whale” was in 1635.
It has also been known as a beluga whale since the late 16th century, from the Russian belyĭ meaning white.
For the light of heart: “Japanese whale whisperer teaches beluga to talk.”
Caption: White Whales I, II, III, and White Whale Pod.
Photographed by Annmarie Throckmorton,
at Wild Arctic Aquarium of Sea World, San Diego, CA, USA 2007.