Belugas in Manitoba: The Future of Our White Whales


Belugas in Manitoba: The Future of Our White Whales

July 14 2021

An estimated 55,000 belugas (one-third of the world’s population) migrate into the Churchill, Seal and Nelson river estuaries each summer to moult, calve and feed.

But belugas are highly sensitive to climatic changes. As the Arctic sea faces longer ice-free periods, beluga whales are becoming more vulnerable to increased ship traffic, hydroelectric development and predation from orca whales.

Kristin Westdal, Arctic Field Research Director at Oceans North, discussed the latest beluga research, including the importance of belugas to the region, the biggest threats to beluga populations and what is being done to protect these magnificent creatures.

About the Speaker

As a marine mammal expert, Kristin Westdal, Arctic Field Research Director at Oceans North, has worked extensively on research about narwhal, belugas and killer whales in Canada’s eastern Arctic, including collaboration with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association. From 2001 to 2005, she owned and operated a kayaking ecotourism operation in Hudson Bay that offered close encounters with beluga whales.

Kristin holds a master’s degree in environmental science from the University of Manitoba, where she researched the movement and diving of narwhal in northern Hudson Bay. She is currently completing a PhD focused on beluga distribution in Hudson Bay.

Lunch and Learns

Nature has been here for us during the pandemic.

CPAWS Manitoba wants to maintain this positive connection to nature by providing a space for Manitobans to connect online from the safety of our homes and be inspired by nature in our backyards and beyond.

Join CPAWS Manitoba for weekly lunch and learn presentations from experts across the province who will share their knowledge and passion and bring new nature-inspired activities into our lives.

This program is possible thanks to the generous support of The Winnipeg Foundation and the Conservation Trust, a Manitoba Climate and Green Plan Initiative delivered by the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation.

Help Keep Manitoba Wild


CPAWS Manitoba has helped establish 23 parks and protected areas thanks to people like you.

With your help, we can protect half our lands and waters for future generations of people and wildlife.