Distribution of Belugas, Delphinapterus leucas, in Cook Inlet, Alaska, During June/July 1993–2000
Aerial surveys of belugas, Delphinapterus leucas, in Cook Inlet were flown each year during June and/or July from 1993 to 2000.
The objectives of this paper are to:
- describe distributional information on belugas in Cook Inlet during June/July, the optimal survey period
- compare recent distributional data to data collected in previous surveys
- provide group size estimates for calculations of stock size
Belugas are known to be in upper Cook Inlet between April and November, and because of the predictability of their distribution, most surveys are conducted in summer. June and July are favored for surveying belugas because the whales are more concentrated than at other times of the year. Also, the lack of sea ice and relatively benign weather maximize the probability of seeing whales
This project was designed to delineate distribution and collect aerial counts, elements critical to the management of this small, isolated stock that was subjected to a persistent harvest by Native hunters. Marine Fisheries Review, 62(3), 2000, David J. Rugh, Kim E. W. Shelden, and Barbara A. Mahoney