Tiffany Spence in Churchill took this spectacular underwater beluga whale video and the crystal clear water gives us a perfect view of the milky white mammals. This is the time to get in the water with these beautiful animals and see what it feels like to be an Arctic whale. Snorkeling with the belugas is a once in – a – lifetime experience that will stay with you forever!
In guiding 10 years of exciting Churchill Arctic Summer adventures in Churchill, there was only one year that we had orca or killer whales appear in the Hudson Bay. Unfortunately, we were not out on the water for the brief encounter and had to be satisfied, or more aptly phrased, frustrated and dismayed to see the incredible photos later on.
Orca’s in the Hudson Bay. Dwight Allen photo.
It seems that with the global warming discussion there have been some noticeable environmental changes that the politicians and analysts don’t see from such a personal perspective. Orca whales have been surfacing more routinely in the Arctic waters of the Hudson Bay and people have been able to document their presence. The shift in territorial presence perhaps is a sign that the weather patterns are changing and new species are able to adapt to a new region more easily. Traditionally, killer whales have had a hard time infiltrating the ice – packed Arctic waters due to their large dorsal fin. As ice is receding and lasting shorter periods in the north, orcas are broadening their range and becoming even more of a predator of seals and other Arctic whales like belugas and narwhals. It is pretty impressive to see these beautiful creatures in the wild.
So I guess I lied about the last beluga whale photos I posted by writing they would the final shots of the season. These clear underwater shots by Douglas Kahle are some real gems. We can’t seem to get enough looks at these incredible mammals that return to the Churchill waters every year.
Google Earth map of beluga whales moving north for the winter.
Almost all of the belugas are on their journey north by now, many to the Hudson Straits area where they will overwinter. The straits have open water or polynas that allow the whales to surface for air from time to time as needed. The above map is from 10 days ago so whales are further north and traversing the Hudson Bay at this point.
Beluga underwater in Churchill. Douglas Khale photo.
Pod of belugas underwater. Douglas Kahle photo.
Curios and friendly beluga whales in Churchill. Douglas Kahle photo.
Beluga spyhopping underwater in Churchill. Douglas Kahle photo.
This photograph of a beluga whale pod feeding on capelin in the Churchill River illustrates how focused these mammals are when taking on a task. When they feed they will ignore any whale watching boats. However when they have had their fill the whales will become extremely focused on the zodiacs and bigger boats and become very curious. Biding time on the water while the beluga’s get their fill is certainly worth the wait!
Beluga whales concentrating on getting capelin. Alex De Vries-Magnifico photo.