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Typically, belugas swim steadily along the surface, unlike most other whales, breathing in a rather thin steamy burst a couple of times a minute. They spend a lot of time under the pack ice, with the broad and flexible head used as a cushion to lift the floes in order to breathe. They can break through as much as 100cm of solid ice.
They are a talkative species – a ‘gam’ of belugas would be the perfect description for a pod whose species was known to whalers as the sea canary because of its varied and musical vocabulary. They indulge in trills, clicks, squeals, bell sounds, whistles and raspberries, sounds which are heard clearly above the surface.