Beluga Observational Studies on Eagle River Flats, Fort Richardson, Alaska 2009
In 2004, USAG-Alaska entered into a settlement agreement with plaintiffs requiring Army environmental personnel to, among other things, monitor the health and behavior of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in and around Eagle River Flats within the boundaries of Fort Richardson, Alaska. Beluga whales were first observed by USAG-Alaska personnel in 2005 and 2006. Most of these observations were opportunistic as personnel conducted other duties out in Eagle River Flats. A more concerted effort to observe belugas specifically was started in 2007 using an ad libitum sampling methodology (USAG-Alaska 2007). A more systematic sampling methodology was begun in 2008 (USAG-Alaska 2008) and refinements were made for the 2009 field season.
Detailed observations of whales were conducted during the summer of 2009 and the details of these observations are described in this document. USAG-Alaska intends to continue using the current observational protocols with adjustments as needed into the foreseeable future.