Beluga whales are funny-looking creatures — and insanely intelligent too.
They like the cold water, and their natural habitat is in the Northern Hemisphere, swimming around in the Arctic Ocean and the subarctic regions beneath.
If you’re looking to see them out in the open water, you’ll need to be in Alaska or take a trip to northern Russia, Canada, Norway, or Greenland. But, sadly, belugas are a critically endangered species thanks to oil and gas development, offshore drilling, pollution, climate change, and other human actions like overfishing.
That’s part of the reason that research aquariums around the world have beluga populations and participate in studies on their well-being. The Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut is one of them.
There, they have a small population of belugas that anyone can visit in their “Arctic Coast” habitat. While animals in captivity make many of us sad (and for good reason), Arctic Coast is bigger than most. In fact, it’s the largest outdoor beluga whale habitat in the U.S.
Their whales are highly personable (as the creatures are in general) and often come to the glass to be amused BY humans. (Hey, it’s only fair that we act as land TV for these special creatures after everything our species has done to them!)
On YouTube, you’ll find plenty of videos of people at Mystic Aquarium feeling special because a beluga watched them do a trick.
But one particularly popular video was taken in 2015 in which a man played the violin for one very interested whale named Juno. Since it was uploaded, it’s been viewed over 1.2 million times.
As the musician plays what sounds like a Celtic melody (we truly don’t know, and the song is not listed), the beluga floats in front of the glass, staring straight at him. As he treads water, it’s hard not to imagine what’s going through his mind.
It’s unclear how much Juno can hear through the glass, but belugas have a keen sense of hearing since they rely on echolocation to communicate with one another. That’s great when someone is playing the violin — but probably less great when kids are running around and letting out ear-piercing screams.
At any rate, he seems mesmerized by both the sound and the musician’s motions during this relatively peaceful moment.
Belugas are the only whales with a flexible neck, which you can see as he turns his head a bit side to side.
And Juno isn’t the only one amused in that beluga tank — another whale floats by serenely while spinning around at the 50-second mark.
We wonder what Juno is trying to communicate when he swims up a bit and pushes his forehead against the glass — could he be sensing the vibrations?
In any case, he sure is a polite audience!
When the man is done playing, the beluga’s eyes seem to follow his hands and instrument, leading some to wonder if that’s what he had been watching all along.
Of course, we’ll never know what enchanted Juno that day, only that he seemed to be amused by his human visitor who put on a show for HIM for once!
But this isn’t the first concert put on for the belugas at Mystic Aquarium. Inexplicably, a mariachi band visited in 2011, equally delighting the whale near the glass.
And we found out that the violinist in this video is named Paulie and he’s the fiddle player for a band called Brigid’s Cross. Another video of him serenading Juno in 2015 was posted to the band’s YouTube page, which you can view here.
Be sure to scroll down below to see the original sweet footage from Juno’s serenade.
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