Polar Bears International

Valeria Vergara

Valeria Vergara

From the Vancouver Aquarium to Hudson Bay, from the Canadian High Arctic to the St. Lawrence Estuary, Dr. Valeria Vergara has listened to the communication sounds made by beluga whales in diverse environments for the past 15 years. She is primarily interested in the communicative and perceptual abilities of marine mammals, and the conservation implications of such capacities. She directs and conducts studies on beluga whales through Ocean Wise’s Marine Mammal Research Program. Her ground-breaking doctorate research at the University of British Columbia was the first to document how beluga calves develop their rich repertoire of vocalizations and to identify contact calls critical for maintaining group cohesion and mother-calf contact. Her studies allow her to address the problems that this sound-centered species faces in an increasingly noisy environment, including the changing underwater soundscape of the Arctic.