The Virukoda Museum of Prehistoric Art Estonia



Chant of the Beluga Exhibition at Virukoda EstoniaBeluga whale

At the "Chant of the Beluga" exhibition, which opens Friday, 15th May, 2009 at Virukoda Estonia, see the world in a most unusual way: through the senses of beluga whales. For thousands of years, these white whales have encountered coastal Sámi roaming the shores of the Arctic Ocean, listened to the Pomors singing on the White Sea and been observed by the inhabitants on its islands, from Vikings to modern tourists. Beluga whales have been immortalised in rock carvings along the cliffs of the White Sea, indicating early contact between humans and whales. The ancient poetry of White Karelia contains echoes of beluga chants. What do we really know about these creatures of the sea, or do we know anything about them at all? Do they have local cultures, passed on from one generation to the next, and what kind of language have they developed to communicate with?

During the archaeological excavations of early 2009 in Tallinn it was revealed that people inhabiting the region in the Litorina period of the Baltic Sea (8000-4000 years ago) used to hunt dolphins and small porpoises. In the same timeframe the inhabitants of the White Sea recorded their belief system into rock, drawing, among other figures, White Sea dolphins or belugas.

Whale researcher Rauno Lauhakangas and musician Gari Saarimäki have studied white whales of the White Sea for many years, recording their lives on video. Last summer, American musician David Rothenberg communicated with whales, while photographer Anna Koivisto captured the interaction on camera. The Chant of the Beluga exhibition offers a Whale Chant video, photo exhibition with audio accompaniment and texts on the theme. The Russian whale researchers Aleksandr Agafonov and Vladimir Baranov complement the entire exhibition with their most recent recordings, and the latest beluga whale photos taken by photographer Hernan Patiño are also on display.

The Chant of the Beluga exhibition is organised by the Nordic Oceanica Society. The exhibition runs from 15th May to 8th August 2009 at Virukoda. Opening hours in May are from 10.00 to 17.00, Tuesday thru Sunday (closed Mondays), and starting in June from 9.00 to 20.00 every day.

Come and learn about the lives of beluga whales!

For further information, please contact:
- Rauno Lauhakangas, whale researcher, tel: +358 (0) 50 529 4194; email:

- Erkki Suonio, director, Virukoda, tel. +372 564 75678, email:

The exhibition promotion material available in Internet