Photo-Identification of Beluga Whales in Upper Cook Inlet Alaska
2007 Annual Report. Prepared for Chevron, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc.
This report provides results from field effort and analyses conducted from September 2006 through October 2007, as part of an ongoing study which has used photo-identification techniques to develop a catalog of individually identified beluga whales from Upper Cook Inlet, Alaska. The original objectives of the study were to:
- Assess the feasibility and utility of photo-identification for studying Cook Inlet beluga whales.
- Build a photo-identification catalog of distinctively marked individuals and describe re-sight rates and discoveries of new individuals over time.
- Develop population characteristics of beluga whales in Upper Cook Inlet, including age-class distribution, residency/movement patterns, behavior, and social group structure.
We discuss the current status of the photo-identification catalog with respect to the project's original objectives and requirements for continued development of a photo-identification catalog for Cook Inlet beluga whales.