Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures

Voyage to Kure
Sharks at Risk
The Gray Whale Obstacle Course
America's Underwater Treasures
Return to the Amazon
Call of the Killer Whale


FeedbackQuestions, comments? Send us your feedback!
Sea Ghosts
The Adobe Flash player (Version 8 or higher) is required to watch the videos on the Ocean Adventures web site. Download the player for free here
Premieres April 8, 2009.
(check local listings for repeat airings)

There are places on this planet where it's a marvel that anything survives. But in the arctic waters of the Far North, the sea is alive with sound. The canaries of the sea are singing. They're beluga whales, named from the Russian word for "white ones." They're an evolutionary surprise -- a warm-blooded mammal in a numbingly cold sea. Resembling curious ghosts, these intelligent mammals use one of the most complex sonars of any animal.

Belugas inhabiting Cook Inlet, close to Anchorage, Alaska, were added to the endangered species list in October 2008. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stated that a decade-long recovery program had failed to ensure the whales' survival. The relationship between people and belugas is ancient. For more than 4,000 years, hunters of the Far North have depended on these whales for their own survival in a land with little else to offer. These traditional cultures have now partnered with scientists and modern technology to protect the beluga, which, in turn, ensures their own future. Yet these efforts are only a small part of the story, as new discoveries have raised troubling questions about the health of belugas and their long-term survival.

Their world is now ground zero for climate change, but what threatens them is not confined to the Arctic, it's global. What lies ahead for the beluga could become prophesy for many species everywhere, including our own.

Related links

beluga whale
Web-exclusive video
What's being done to study and protect these whales?
Ocean Science
beluga whale
In-depth: belugas
Why do people and belugas in the St. Lawrence region have higher rates of cancer?
Play The Whale Watcher Game!
Join the film crew and see how many different whale behaviors you can capture on film!