Aerial Survey of Belugas in Cook Inlet Alaska August 2007
Aerial survey of the beluga population in northern Cook Inlet, Alaska, August 1-2, 2007 to obtain high-resolution video of each beluga group to determine age structure and number of calves
NOAA Fisheries conducted an aerial survey of the beluga population in northern Cook Inlet, Alaska, 1-2 August 2007. The 13.1 hour survey covered the coastal areas north of Moose Point and the Native Village of Tyonek. Consistent with NOAA Fisheries surveys conducted since 1993, the August 2007 survey was flown in a high-wing, twin-engine aircraft (NOAA Twin Otter N56RF) at an altitude of 244 m (800 ft) and a speed of 185 km/hr (100 kt). The survey track paralleled the coast (1.4 km offshore) and crossed the Inlet the first day from just north of Moose Point to Tyonek, and the second day from Point Possession to Beluga River. Two flights were flown each day coinciding with the morning high tide and afternoon low tide. The intent of the survey was to obtain high-resolution video of each beluga group to determine age structure (white relative to gray individuals and dark gray calves) and number of calves. Video cameras used during past surveys (1999-2001 and 2002-2005) were paired with the high-definition video camera used in 2006-2007 to test for differences in video quality across years.