Beluga whale with soccer ball

Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Cetacean soccer star
A beluga whale clutches a soccer ball in its mouth on May 30 while playing inside a tank at the Beijing Aquarium.


Belugas, or white whales, are sociable and playful creatures, making them popular among aquarium visitors. This threatened species was among the first type of whale to be placed in captivity. However, captive breeding programs have rarely been successful and the recent death of a newborn beluga at the Georgia Aquarium has raised questions about the health of marine animals in captivity.


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A young boy watching a dolphin inside a tank.

Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Marine antics

A silhouetted child presses his palm against the glass of a tank as a Pacific white-sided dolphin swims up to meet him inside the Beijing Aquarium.


Found in the cool waters of the North Pacific Ocean, the white-sided dolphin is extremely active and readily engages in bow-riding and somersaults. The tri-colored cetacean is social and commonly swims in groups ranging from 10 to 100 individuals, though supergroups of 300 individuals have also been documented.


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Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.

Photos: Belugas' soccer shenanigans
A group of cetaceans volley with soccer balls and strike poses for visitors to the Beijing Aquarium.