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Friday, June 1, 2012

Ball-uga whales! Marine mammals show off their silky soccer skills at aquarium

By Tammy Hughes

Tackle: Two beluga whales play with a football at the Beijing Aquarium

The beautiful game has been played in many different places and under many different circumstances over the course of the last century.

It has been played from the Antarctica to the Sahara and has long been recognised as a way to bring people of all cultures and backgrounds together.

During the First World War soldiers from British and German forces even left their trenches and engaged in a friendly game of football in the famous Christmas day truce of 1914.

But the popular sport has now spread further than anyone thought it would...to an aquarium in Beijing.

Having a ball: The whales were seen enjoying themselves by visitors today

Entranced visitors watched as two beluga wales played with a football at the popular tourist spot.

The friendly marine mammals were seen tossing their toy into the air before diving for it and even going as far to tackle each other for possession of the prized ball.

At one point one of the whales appears to do a header while the other was photographed later trying to defend his position.

The Beijing Aquarium, shaped like a huge conch shell, is the largest in China. It was named by state media as a 'Beijing civilized Tourist Scenic Spot' and houses more than 1,000 marine species and freshwater fish.

Splashing fun: The friendly marine mammals were spotted tossing the ball around in their tank

A mother and daughter pose in front of the playmates who seem to engrossed in their game to notice the special attention

Belugas are also called white whales, and their unusual color makes them one of the most familiar and easily distinguishable of all the whales.

Calves are born gray or even brown and only fade to white as they become sexually mature around five years of age.

White whales are smallish, ranging from 13 to 20 feet (4 to 6.1 meters) in length. They have rounded foreheads and no dorsal fin.

Belugas generally live together in small groups known as pods. They are social animals and very vocal communicators that employ a diversified language of clicks, whistles, and clangs. Belugas can also mimic a variety of other sounds.

Header: The football is suspended for a second before the whales resume play

Tough competition: The whales were seen playing at Beijing Aquarium which houses more than 1,000 marine species and freshwater fish



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