NOAA Fisheries and Partners Invite Public to Help Count Cook Inlet Beluga Whales
Beluga whales are one of Alaska’s iconic marine mammals. That’s why NOAA Fisheries and partners invite members of the public to participate in conserving the endangered population in Cook Inlet in at the second annual “Belugas Count!” —being held Saturday, September 15, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., in the greater Anchorage area.
This celebration and citizen count is free and open to the public. No registration is required.
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., members of the public are invited to help spot and count Cook Inlet beluga whales at 15 staffed stations throughout Cook Inlet, from Homer to the Mat Su Valley..
From 1 to 5 p.m., people can attend a free Belugas Festival at the Alaska Zoo, which will be held in the Gateway Building near the zoo entrance. There will be live presentations, booths, family activities, and more. See a real beluga skeleton, escape a marine debris obstacle course, enjoy storytime with the Anchorage Public Library, or learn how to age belugas from their teeth. There will also be beluga-themed scientific talks throughout the afternoon.
This all-day citizen science celebration aims to bring together members of the public to focus on the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale, fostering local pride, awareness, and stewardship. It’s a collaboration among a variety of federal and state agencies, local and national organizations, as well as individuals.
In October 2008, NOAA Fisheries listed Cook Inlet beluga whales as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. This species continues to suffer a downward population trend. Scientists estimate there are between 300-400 beluga whales in Cook Inlet.
NOAA Fisheries has designated Cook Inlet beluga whales as one of eight “Species in the Spotlight” — species in need of a concerted effort by individuals, agencies, groups, tribes, institutions, and organizations large and small to survive. The goal is to have partners and interested members of the public work together to recover this species. Belugas Count! is an event designed to do that.
Partners in this event include: NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, The Alaska Zoo, Alaska SeaLife Center, Beluga Whale Alliance, Cook Inlet Beluga Photo-ID Project, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, University of Alaska Kachemak Bay Campus, and committed individuals.