Category Archives: Beluga Whales

Polar Bear Blog – Churchill Bears and Belugas

Beluga season is hitting full-stride up in Churchill, lots of pics being posted on facebook and twitter from the zodiac and snorkelling tours.  But, of course, as belugas peak, it also means that the season has just passed its halfway point. The first beluga whales have shown up near Arviat on their way to northwestern Hudson Bay.  The Churchill River is still teeming with whales, of course, but in another three weeks most will be travelling back to their wintering grounds near Repulse Bay and into Hudson Strait.  If a bowhead … Continue Reading ››

Polar Bear Blog – The Beluga Who Spoke (Pt.2)

(continued from previous post - original article appearing in Smithsonian Magazine - Charles Siebert, June 2014) “We do not claim that our whale was a good mimic compared to such well-known mimics as parrots or myna birds,” Ridgway’s Current Biology paper concludes. “However, the sonic behavior we observed is an example of vocal learning by the white whale. It seems likely that Noc’s close association with humans played a role in how often he employed his human voice, as well as in its quality.” Episodes of animal mimicry have … Continue Reading ››

Polar Bear Blog – The Beluga Who Spoke (Pt.1)

Here is an article from Smithsonian Magazine (Charles Siebert, June 2014) about a beluga whale captured by Churchill's whale riders in the 1970s... The Story of Noc Millions of years before we humans came along, the earth’s oceans were a vast, unbroken web of whale song. The complex courting arias of humpbacks, the distinct clicking dialects of migrating sperm-whale clans, the congalike poundings of Pacific grays, the multi-thousand-mile moans and blips of massive blue and fin whales conversing across oceans at octaves well below our range of hearing, the nearly nonstop … Continue Reading ››

Whale Season

Images courtesy of Alex de Vries -

Polar Bear Blog – About a Beluga

Churchill is just recovering from a heat wave this week and quickly running out of beer while they wait for news of the train.  Omnitrax is now issuing updates that seem to just be the same four paragraphs repeated everyday but they say the line should be open to freight in the first week of July.  After that, VIA will send its own people up to inspect the track - that would take a minimum of five days - but in my opinion, its probably another two weeks after the track opens before any passenger … Continue Reading ››

Polar Bear Blog – History of Beluga Whales and Churchill

Churchill’s first claim to fame was not polar bears or grain, it was beluga whales. In February of 1689, the Hudson’s Bay Company passed a resolution ‘that the Churchill River bee settled this yeare with a good ship and a competent cargo for trade and materials for white whale ffishings.’ That year, a harpooner boarded the supply ship bound for York Factory. Henry Kelsey and a small troop of Company Men and Cree Homeguard would travel to Churchill that summer and establish the first trading post at Churchill. Twenty-eight casks of whale oil were rendered and … Continue Reading ››