Russian Journal of Marine Biology

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 394–403 | Cite as

The Structure of the Reproductive Gathering of Beluga Whales, Delphinapterus leucas (Pallas, 1776), off Solovetsky Island (White Sea) as Inferred from Results of Photo Identification in 2007–2013

  • A. D. ChernetskyEmail author
  • V. V. Krasnova


The study of the summer gathering of beluga whales, Delphinapterus leucas, off Cape Beluzhy, Solovetsky Island, White Sea, whose results are considered in the present work, is based on the analysis of photo identification materials over a 7-year period (2007–2013). The Solovetsky gathering is a structural unit of the Onega subpopulation of White Sea beluga whales that consists of individuals with varying degrees of fidelity to this water area. The resident individuals of the Solovetsky gathering usually remain in these waters throughout the summer season, with some of them returning here after each winter, thus, exhibiting philopatry. The non-resident belugas (adult males and females) visit the area only for a certain period of time. During the summer they freely move within the Onega Bay. According to photo identification data, considering the rotation of individuals in the gathering, approximately 195.4 ± 23.5 animals can visit the study area during each summer. This value is significantly greater than the results of visual observations.


beluga whale White Sea Onega Bay summer reproductive gathering photo identification structure and size of gathering resident and non-resident individuals 



This work was conducted within the framework of the Government Assignment Topic no. 0149-2018-0008 and supported by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).


  1. 1.
    Alekseeva, Ya.I., Krasnova, V.V., Belikov, R.A., and Bel’kovich, V.M., The comparative characteristic of three regular summer gathering of belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) in the White Sea, in VII Mezhd. Konf. “Morskie mlekopitayushchie Golarktiki,” Suzdal’, Rossiya, 24–28 sentyabrya 2012, Tezisy dokladov (Proc. VII Int. Conf. “Marine Mammals of the Holarctic,” Suzdal, Russia, September 24–28, 2012), Moscow: Sov. Morsk. Mlekopitayushchim, 2012, vol. 1, pp. 33–37.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Andrianov, V.V., Bel’kovich, V.M., and Lukin, L.R., White whale (Delphinapterus leucas) distribution in Onega Bay of the White Sea in the summer, Oceanology, 2009, vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 73–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bel’kovich, V.M., White whale of the European North: the latest research, Rybn. Khoz., 2004, no. 2, pp. 32–34.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bel’kovich, V.M., Chernetsky, A.D., and Kirillova, O.I., Biology of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in the southern White Sea, in Morskie mlekopitayushchie (rezul’taty issledovanii, provedennykh v 1995–1998 gg.) (Marine Mammals (Results of the Studies Conducted in 1995–1998)), Moscow: Ketran, 2002, pp. 53–78.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kleinenberg, S.E., Yablokov, A.V., Bel’kovich, V.M., and Tarasevich, M.N., Belukha. Opyt monograficheskogo issledovaniya vida (Beluga Whale: The Experience of Monographic Study of the Species), Moscow: Nauka, 1964.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Krasnova, V.V., Bel’kovich, V.M., and Chernetskii, A.D., Formation of behavior in the White Sea beluga calf, Delphinapterus leucas, during early postnatal ontogenesis, Russ. J. Mar. Biol., 2009, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 53–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Krasnova, V.V., Chernetsky, A.D., Kirillova, O.I., and Bel’kovich, V.M., The dynamics of the abundance, age, and sex structure of the Solovetsky reproductive gathering of the Beluga whale Delphinapterus leucas (Onega Bay, White Sea), Russ. J. Mar. Biol., 2012, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 218–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Krasnova, V.V., Chernetsky, A.D., and Russkova, O.V., Skin defects in the beluga whale Delphinapterus leucas (Pallas, 1776) from the Solovetsky gathering, as revealed by photo-identification analysis, Russ. J. Mar. Biol., 2015, vol. 41, no. 5, pp. 372–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kuznetsova, D.M., Glazov, D.M., Shpak, O.V., and Rozhnov, V.V., Winter distribution and migrations of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in the White Sea based on satellite tracking data, Biol. Bull. (Moscow), 2016, vol. 43, no. 8, pp. 914–917.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Meshchersky, I.G., Chernetsky, A.D., Krasnova, V.V., Solovyev, B.A., Udovik, D.A., Shpak, O.V., Glazov, D.M., and Rozhnov, V.V., Mitochondrial lineages of the Beluga Whale Delphinapterus leucas in the Russian Arctic, Biol. Bull. (Moscow), 2018, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 147–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Prasolova, E.A., Belikov, R.A., Ryabov, A.A., and Litovka, D.I., Results on photo identification for beluga whale Delphinapterus leucas in the Anadyr estuary of the Bering Sea, Izv. Tikhookean. Nauchno–Issled. Inst. Rybn. Khoz. Okeanogr., 2014, vol. 179, pp. 120–128.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Tarasyan, K.K., Shulezhko, T.S., Udovik, D.A., et al., Application of the photo-identification method for the study of summer aggregations of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in the mouths of western Kamchatka rivers, Issled. Vodn. Biol. Resur. Kamchatki Sev.-Zapadn. Chasti Tikhogo Okeana, 2013, vol. 28, pp. 41–49.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Chernetsky A.D., Bel’kovich, V.M., and Krasnova, V.V., New data on population structure of white whales in the White Sea, in Vtoraya mezhd. konf. “Morskie mlekopitayushchie Holarktiki”, Baikal, Rossiya, 10–15 sentyabrya 2002 g., Tezisy dokladov (Proc. Second Int. Conf. “Marine Mammals of Holarctic,” Baikal, Russia, September 10–15, 2002, Abstracts of Papers), Moscow: KMK, 2002, pp. 279–282.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Chernetsky, A.D., Krasnova, V.V., and Bel’kovich, V.M., Studies of the structure of the Solovetsky reproductive gathering of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in the White Sea using the photo identification method, Oceanology, 2011, vol. 51, no. 2, pp. 275–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Chernetsky, A.D., Krasnova, V.V., Melnikova, F.E., and Belikov, R.A., Dynamics of the solovetskyi and myagostrovskyi beluga whale population structure in summer 2013 (White Sea, Onega Bay), in VIII Mezhd. Konf. “Morskie mlekopitayushchie Golarktiki”, Sankt-Peterburg, 22–27 sentyabrya 2014, Tezisy dokladov (Proc. VIII Int. Conf. “Marine Mammals of the Holarctic”, St. Petersburg, September 22–27, 2014, Abstracts of Papers), Moscow: Sov. Morsk. Mlekopitayushchim, 2015, vol. 2, pp. 298–302.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Yakovlev, Yu.M., Tyurneva, O.M., and Vertyankin, V.V., Photo-identification of gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) off the northeast coast of Sakhalin Island in 2013, Res. Rep. Prepared for Exxon Neftegas Ltd. and Sakhalin Energy Investment Co., Vladivostok, 2014.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Bradford, A.L., Weller, D.W., Wade, P.R., et al., Population abundance and growth rate of western gray whales Eschrichtius robustus, Endangered Species Res., 2008, vol. 6, pp. 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Doidge, D.W., Age-length and length-weight comparisons in the beluga, Delphinapterus leucas, in Advances in Research on the Beluga Whale, Delphinapterus leucas, Smith, T.G., St. Aubin, D.J., and Geraci, J.R., Eds., Can. Bull. Fish. Aquat. Sci., 1990, vol. 224, pp. 59–68.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hill, H.M., Campbell, C., Dalton, L., and Osborn, S., The first year of behavioral development and maternal care of beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) calves in human care, Zool. Biol., 2013, vol. 32, no. 5, pp. 565–570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kaplan, C.C., McGuire, T.L., Blees, M.K., and Raborn, S.W., Longevity and causes of marks seen on Cook Inlet beluga whales, in Photo-Identification of Beluga Whales in Upper Cook Inlet, Alaska: Final Report of Mark Analysis, Mark-Resight Estimates, and Color Analysis from Photographs Taken in 2008, Rep. Prepared by LGL Alaska Res. Assoc. Inc., Anchorage, Alaska, for Natl. Fish Wildlife Found., Chevron, ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc., 2009, ch. 1.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    McGuire, T.L., Blees, M.K., and Bourdon, M.L., The development of a catalog of left-side digital images of individually-identified Cook Inlet beluga whales Delphinapterus leucas, North Pac. Res. Board Final Rep., 2011, no. 96, p. 910.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Michaud, R., St. Lawrence Estuary beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) population parameters based on photo-identification surveys, 1989–2012, DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc., 2014, no. 2013/130.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Report of the NAMMCO Global Review of Mondontids, 13–16 March 2017, Hillerød, Denmark: North. Atl. Mar. Mammal Comm., 2018. Accessed January 03, 2018.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    O’Corry-Crowe, G.M., Suydam, R.S., Rosenberg, A., et al., Phylogeography, population structure and dispersal patterns of the beluga whale Delphinapterus leucas in the western Nearctic revealed by mitochondrial DNA, Mol. Ecol., 1997, vol. 6, pp. 955–970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Panova, E.M., Belikov, R.A., Agafonov, A.V., et al., Intraspecific variability in the “vowel”-like sounds of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas): Intra- and interpopulation comparisons, Mar. Mamm. Sci., 2016, vol. 32, pp. 452–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Smith, T.G., Hammil, M.O., and Martin, A.R., Herd composition and behaviour of white whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in two Canadian arctic estuaries, Medd. Groenl.: Biosci., 1994, vol. 39, pp. 175–184.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Straley, J.M., Quinn, T.J. II, and Gabriele, C.M., Assessment of mark-recapture models to estimate the abundance of a humpback whale feeding aggregation in Southeast Alaska, J. Biogeogr., 2009, vol. 36, pp. 427–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Wilson, B., Hammond, P.S., and Thompson, P.M., Estimating size and assessing trends in a coastal bottlenose dolphin population, Ecol. Appl., 1999, vol. 9, pp. 288–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Williams, R. and Thomas, L., Cost-effective abundance estimation of rare marine animals: small-boat surveys for killer whales in British Columbia, Canada, Biol. Conserv., 2009, vol. 142, pp. 1542–1547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia

Personalised recommendations