Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Beluga (Delpainapterus leucas), the White Whale, one of the Dolphin family, closely allied to the Narwhal (q.v.). These animals are from 12 to 16 feet long, creamy white in hue, symmetrical in form, with short stumpy flippers, and a mere ridge in the place of a dorsal fin. They are abundant in the Arctic seas, and extend as far south on the American coast as the St. Lawrence, which they ascend for a considerable distance, and they have occasionally been seen on the coast of Scotland. These animals are gregarious, often appearing in large schools. They are sometimes kept in aquaria, and from their sportive nature afford much amusement to visitors. The Greenlanders capture them in nets, and the North American Indians on the St. Lawrence paint their canoes white and sail in among them, harpooning when opportunity offers, though the soft skin frequently allows the harpoon to drop out. Every part of the animal is valuable, the flesh is eaten, the fat is made into oil, the skin made into leather, and the membranes utilised for various purposes. The female brings forth a single young one in the spring; this is of a bluish-grey, paling with age. The name (which is Russian) is also applied to Acipenser huso [Sturgeon], and it was in this sense that the word was first used in English.