Photo-identification of Beluga Whales in Upper Cook Inlet Alaska
Final Report of Field Activities in 2008
Alaska's Cook Inlet beluga whale population was listed as endangered in October 2008, and as a result, critical habitat for the survival and recovery of the population must be designated. Land and vessel-based photo-identification surveys can be used to characterize distribution and movement patterns of individual beluga whales, which can augment critical habitat information from aerial surveys and tagging studies. Photo-identification data describing CIBW residency and movement patterns, habitat use by mothers and calves, and assessment of behavior will aid in the identification of critical habitat, including movement corridors and location of grounds for feeding, calving, and rearing of young.