“If you keep making that face it’ll freeze that way!” Do you think beluga moms use that line on their kids? Probably not, because the moms are making faces, too! Belugas have very malleable mouths with a cleft upper lip. These traits are unusual among whales and dolphins, but give belugas their uniquely wide range of “facial expressions,” the ability to pucker their lips, and squirt water with amazing accuracy.
While those skills may seem custom-made for the entertainment of oceanaria visitors, they actually have a very important function for survival in the wild. Many of the belugas’ various prey items are bottom dwellers, and belugas use their flexible lips and mouths to create suction for feeding. It’s a shame that the way belugas forage has been twisted by captivity into a stunt intended to amuse spectators.
This week, help us keep belugas wild and free by telling Turner Broadcasting (owners of TBS & CNN – where “Blackfish” has recently been seen by millions – among other networks) that you are not amused or entertained by captivity. We’re going back to Facebook this week (TBS doesn’t provide a general contact email) to tell them: “Turner Broadcasting, you say you’ve been environmentally responsible since your founding – importing wild Russian belugas is NOT environmentally responsible! Say NO to sponsoring the Georgia Aquarium.”
Thanks for being part of another action alert – see you next week for your new beluga fun fact!