Beluga Whales | Fact and Opinion | Third Grade

Subject: Reading

Subskill: Reading Comprehension

Concept: Fact and Opinion

Grade Level: Middle Elementary

The Beluga whale is one of the most fascinating sea mammals in the world. Beluga means “white one” in Russian. Not only are Belugas the only white whales in existence, they have been nicknamed “sea canaries” because of the wide assortment of chirping, clicking and whistling sounds they make when communicating. Belugas look like they have a friendly personality because they usually appear to be smiling, and their eyes sparkle and seem to blink with delight. In fact, they are known to make a variety of facial expressions from grins to frowns.

Belugas live mainly in the frigid, shallow Arctic seas and migrate south to warmer waters in the summer to feed and rear their young. They are gentle, sociable creatures who may be seen playfully chasing each other and rubbing against each other in the water. Belugas travel and hunt in tight-knit groups, called pods, consisting of males, females and calves. The average size of a pod is 10, but it can be as large as 25 whales. During migration, many pods join and form one large group. As a result, thousands of these majestic, white whales can be seen migrating together through the icy waters of the Arctic.

Belugas weigh approximately 3,300 pounds and grow to be about 15 feet long. They are toothed whales with one blowhole and no dorsal fin. Unlike most whales, they use their tails to swim backwards in the water, and they are the only whales that can turn their heads to the side because of their flexible necks. Baby Beluga whales are born with dark fur, but they become almost pure white by the age of two years. Belugas feed mostly on fish, squid and crustaceans from the bottom of the sea floor, but they are powerful swimmers and are known to work in pods to trap entire schools of fish.

Killer whales and polar bears are the natural enemies of Belugas. Since ancient times, Belugas have been hunted for their meat, blubber and skin, and they are still hunted today by some Eskimo tribes. In addition, their existence is threatened by water pollution. Some Canadian and Alaskan Belugas are classified as endangered, while other pods around the Arctic are also considered threatened.

Here are some questions to ask after listening to the passage:

Here’s a sentence from the passage:
The Beluga whale is one of the most fascinating sea mammals in the world.

Is this a fact or an opinion?

Now try this one:
Baby Beluga whales are born with dark fur but they become almost pure white by the age of 2 years.

Is this a fact or an opinion?

What are groups of Belugas called?

Why is the Beluga whale endangered?

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