Slide Menu
Known Issue with Distributions: We have been made aware of an issue introduced in the current release with the new Distribution Format field. When creating a new Distribution, if Distribution Format is not populated, you will encounter an unintended application error. Until this issue is fixed, if you need to create Distributions without a Distribution Format, please use the following workar...
View All
Maintenance Notice: Thursday November 30 @ 1pm-2:30pm Eastern. InPort and its associated services will be under maintenance and unavailable for the deployment of InPort Release 5.3.2. Downtime Schedule Thursday, November 30, 2023 1:00pm - 2:30pm Eastern / 10:00am - 11:30am Pacific / 8:00am - 9:30am Hawaii Impacted Areas - InPort Website: - InPo...
View All
Search Help Show/Hide Menu
Short Citation:
Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 2023: AFSC/NMML: Beluga whale aerial survey in Cook Inlet, Alaska, 1993-2022,

Item Identification

Title: AFSC/NMML: Beluga whale aerial survey in Cook Inlet, Alaska, 1993-2022
Short Name: AFSC/NMML: Beluga whale aerial survey in Cook Inlet, Alaska, 1993-2022
Status: In Work
Creation Date: 1993

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has conducted aerial counts of Cook Inlet beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from 1993 to 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2021, and 2022. Nearly all counts were conducted during the month of June. The routine nature of these counts and the consistency in research protocol lend themselves to inter-annual trend analyses. Beginning in 2005, an aerial survey was added during the month of August to document calving groups within the upper Inlet (north of East and West Foreland). Research protocol has been based on paired observers on the shoreward side of the aircraft and a single observer and computer operator on the offshore side independently searching for marine mammals. Data on environmental conditions, time, location, species, and inclinometer angle were collected for each sighting. The counting protocol included multiple passes near each beluga group while simultaneously collecting video footage. The counting system and observer performance has been tested through paired, independent observational effort. Information about the Cook Inlet beluga whale projects conducted at NOAA can be found here:


Aerial counts and video footage of beluga whales provide the fundamental data used to calculate the abundance of and a calving index for the Cook Inlet population. The abundance estimates are applied to trends analyses to determine the status of the stock. Results from this study were the basis for adding this distinct population of whales to the list of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.


Loaded by FGDC Metadata Uploader, batch 6553, 07-16-2015 18:03

The following FGDC sections are not currently supported in InPort, but were preserved and will be included in the FGDC export:

- Taxonomy (FGDC:taxonomy)


Theme Keywords

Thesaurus Keyword
ISO 19115 Topic Category
ISO 19115 Topic Category
None abundance
None aerial
None distribution
None photo

Temporal Keywords

Thesaurus Keyword
None summer

Spatial Keywords

Thesaurus Keyword
None Alaska
None Cook Inlet

Physical Location

Organization: National Marine Mammal Laboratory
City: Seattle
State/Province: WA
Country: United States

Data Set Information

Data Set Scope Code: Data Set
Maintenance Frequency: Annually
Data Presentation Form: Table (digital)
Distribution Liability:

The user is responsible for the results of any application of this data for other than its intended purpose.

NOAA denies liability if the data are misused.

Support Roles

Data Steward

CC ID: 227095
Date Effective From: 1993
Date Effective To:
Contact (Person): Shelden, Kim
Email Address:


CC ID: 208971
Date Effective From: 2015-07-16
Date Effective To:
Contact (Organization): National Centers For Environmental Information (Boulder) (NCEI-Boulder)
Address: E/GC 325 Broadway
Boulder, CO 80305-3328
Phone: 303-497-6826

Metadata Contact

CC ID: 208969
Date Effective From: 2015-07-16
Date Effective To:
Contact (Person): MC, Metadata Coordinators
Email Address:


CC ID: 208972
Date Effective From: 2015-07-16
Date Effective To:
Contact (Organization): Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC)
Address: 7600 Sand Point Way N.E., Building 4
Seattle, WA 98115
Business Hours: 0700-1700 Pacific Time

Point of Contact

CC ID: 208970
Date Effective From: 2015-07-16
Date Effective To:
Contact (Person): Angliss, Robyn
Address: 7600 Sand Point Way, NE
Seattle, WA 98115-6349
Email Address:
Phone: 206-526-4032
Fax: 206-526-6615


Currentness Reference: Ground Condition

Extent Group 1

Extent Group 1 / Geographic Area 1

CC ID: 208968
W° Bound: -155
E° Bound: -148
N° Bound: 62
S° Bound: 58

Cook Inlet, Alaska

Extent Group 1 / Time Frame 1

CC ID: 208967
Time Frame Type: Range
Start: 1993
End: 2014

Access Information

Security Class: Unclassified
Data Access Procedure:

Data can be accessed at

Data Access Constraints:

There are no legal restrictions on access to the data. They reside in public domain and can be freely distributed.

Data Use Constraints:

User must read and fully comprehend the metadata prior to use. Applications or inferences derived from the data should be carefully considered for accuracy. Acknowledgement of NOAA/NMFS/AFSC as the source from which these data were obtained, in any publications and/or other representations of these data, is suggested.

Distribution Information

Distribution 1

CC ID: 238869
Download URL:
Distributor: National Centers For Environmental Information (Boulder) (NCEI-Boulder) (2015-07-16 - Present)

Cook Inlet beluga whale aerial survey data.

File Type (Deprecated): csv (comma-separated values)
Distribution Format: CSV - Comma Separated Values (Text)



CC ID: 209028
Name: Distribution of belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) in Cook Inlet, Alaska, June 2021 and June 2022
URL Type:
Online Resource


CC ID: 1224725
Name: Aerial surveys, distribution, abundance, and trend of belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) in Cook Inlet, Alaska, June 2018
URL Type:
Online Resource

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has conducted aerial surveys to estimate abundance of the beluga population in Cook Inlet, Alaska, each June, July, or both from 1993 to 2012, after which biennial surveys began in 2014. The current document presents survey results and subsequent analyses yielding an abundance estimate and population trend based on data collected during June 2018.

Technical Environment



Data Quality


Two observers were positioned on the shoreward side of the plane and one observer and a data recorder on the offshore side. During many of the surveys, an intercom system provided communication among the observers, data recorder, and pilots, but a selective listening device was used to aurally isolate each observer position. This ensured independent sighting collection to calculate correction factors for missed beluga groups. After reporting a beluga group, the team would go off effort and the plane would fly directly over the group to obtain a sighting location. A racetrack pattern was flown around the whale aggregation and the paired observers would tally the number of animals independently and assign an overall grade to the circling pass (A to F for excellent to poor). The pass quality was based on the overall visibility of the group (accounting for sea state, sighting distance, glare, and the condition of the observation window), irrespective of the number of whales at the surface. Once the two observers recorded four high quality passes (A or B), the crew would rotate and the remaining observer and data recorder would count until they also obtained four high quality passes. In most cases, there were 16 high quality counts for each group of belugas encountered. The number of counting passes was occasionally reduced when group sizes were small (less than 10 animals) or when air traffic precluded additional circling time. All data were recorded real-time into a Microsoft Access database by a specially-designed software program. Edits were performed at the end of each survey day for quality control purposes.

Completeness Report:

All sighting data for species other than beluga whales were collected opportunistically and should be used with caution. On rare occasions (pre 2005) the GPS lost signal resulting in data gaps in the trackline data.

Quality Control Procedures Employed:

After each survey day, data were quality controlled by checking all hand entered information from that day including weather, sightings, species, group sizes, observer position, and comment data for errors.

Data Management

Have Resources for Management of these Data Been Identified?: No
Approximate Percentage of Budget for these Data Devoted to Data Management: 0
Do these Data Comply with the Data Access Directive?: Yes
Is Access to the Data Limited Based on an Approved Waiver?: No
Approximate Delay Between Data Collection and Dissemination: Unknown
Actual or Planned Long-Term Data Archive Location: NCEI-MD
Approximate Delay Between Data Collection and Archiving: Unknown
How Will the Data Be Protected from Accidental or Malicious Modification or Deletion Prior to Receipt by the Archive?:

IT Security and Contingency Plan for the system establishes procedures and applies to the functions, operations, and resources necessary to recover and restore data as hosted in the Western Regional Support Center in Seattle, Washington, following a disruption.


Process Steps

Process Step 1

CC ID: 208976


Child Items

Rubric scores updated every 15m

Rubric Score Type Title
Entity GPSEffort 1993_2022.csv
Entity GroupPassMark 1993_2022.csv
Entity Sightings 1993_2022.csv
Entity Weather 1993_2022.csv

Catalog Details

Catalog Item ID: 17335
GUID: gov.noaa.nmfs.inport:17335
Metadata Record Created By: SysAdmin InPortAdmin
Metadata Record Created: 2012-12-21 17:01+0000
Metadata Record Last Modified By: SysAdmin InPortAdmin
Metadata Record Last Modified: 2023-10-17 16:12+0000
Metadata Record Published: 2018-11-27
Owner Org: AFSC
Metadata Publication Status: Published Externally
Do Not Publish?: N
Metadata Last Review Date: 2018-11-27
Metadata Review Frequency: 1 Year
Metadata Next Review Date: 2019-11-27