Great white whales

The relationship between Arctic whales and sea ice is still largely a mystery.

Vicki Beaver, NOAA

Declines in the Arctic summer sea ice are arguably the most dramatic evidence of the effects of current climate warming on ocean systems.

Pictured here are beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas), often known as white whales. It turns out they have a tremendous ability to deal with widely varying sea ice conditions from one year to the next as they return to traditional Arctic summering grounds each year, according to a study published in Royal Society Biology Letters.

But it's not all great news. Changed behaviours can put them at greater risk of predation.

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