2018 Cook Inlet Belugas Count!

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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.

Schedule

 

Two Locations: Upper Cook Inlet and the Alaska Zoo

10 a.m.-1 p.m. : Cook Inlet Belugas Citizen Count, Upper Cook Inlet

15 public staffed, shore-based viewing stations throughout Cook Inlet, from Homer to the Mat Su Valley (Bring your camera and binoculars!)

1 -5 p.m. : Beluga Festival, Gateway Building at the Alaska Zoo

Interactive live presentations, booths, family activities, and more.

 

Talks

1:30 p.m.                             

Mystic Aquarium:

What belugas in Connecticut can tell us about belugas in Cook Inlet

2:15 p.m.

Georgia Aquarium:

Beluga Ambassadors - What experts learn from caring for belugas and how it can help wild populations

3:00 p.m.

SeaWorld San Antonio:

Update on the Cook Inlet beluga calf rescued in 2017

3:45 p.m.

Shedd Aquarium:

Using animal husbandry to inform beluga research, health, and welfare

4:30 p.m.

NOAA Fisheries:

Update on beluga conservation and recovery

 

Last updated by Alaska Regional Office on 07/10/2018

Species in the Spotlight Cook Inlet Beluga Whale