Aerial Survey of Belugas in Cook Inlet Alaska August 2006
Aerial survey of the beluga population in upper Cook Inlet, Alaska, August 16-17, 2006 to document whale groups via video for an analysis of age structure.
NOAA Fisheries conducted an aerial survey of the beluga population in upper Cook Inlet, Alaska, 16-17 August 2006. The survey (10.1 flight hours) provided thorough coverage of coastal areas around the upper Inlet north of East and West Forelands. Consistent with NOAA Fisheries surveys conducted since 1993, the August 2006 survey was flown at an altitude of 244 m (800 ft) and a speed of 185 km/hr (100 kt). Tracklines were flown both parallel to the coast (1.4 km offshore) and across the Inlet. When beluga groups were encountered, a series of aerial passes was made with two observers each making four or more independent counts. The survey in August 2006 was different from most previous surveys in that it was done in a Twin Otter aircraft instead of an Aero Commander, and paired, independent searches were not conducted. The primary intent of the survey was to document whale groups via video for an analysis of age structure (white adults relative to dark juveniles).