Photo-identification of Beluga Whales in Susitna River Delta, Upper Cook Inlet Alaska
Summary of Field Activities and Whales Identified in 2014. Prepared for: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc.
Surveys of the Susitna River Delta of Upper Cook Inlet, Alaska were conducted from a small vessel in July and August 2014 under NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Protection Act/Endangered Species Act Scientific Research Permit # 18016. Cook Inlet Beluga Whale (CIBW) sightings and environmental conditions were recorded during the surveys, and whales were photographed with a digital camera and zoom lens. Locations of CIBW groups and survey routes were mapped and figures were prepared showing survey routes, group location, group size, and group color composition for each survey conducted in 2014.
This report presents results of vessel-based surveys in the Susitna River Delta (defined as the nearshore areas between the Beluga River and the Little Susitna River) in 2014. Additional beluga photo-identification surveys in 2014 were conducted in Knik Arm and Turnagain Arm, and those results are presented in a separate report (McGuire and Stephens 2016). A summary and synthesis of results of all photo-id surveys of Cook Inlet conducted from 2005-2011 left-side catalogs, will be presented in a comprehensive report scheduled to be issued December 2016.