Photo-identification of Beluga Whales in Upper Cook Inlet Alaska
Final Report of Belugas Re-sighted in 2008
The Cook Inlet beluga whale photo-identification study has been ongoing since 2005. The objectives of this study are to:
- Assess the feasibility and utility of photo-identification for studying CIBW.
- Build a photo-identification catalog of distinctively marked individuals and describing re-sight rates and discoveries of new individuals over time.
- Describe population characteristics of beluga whales in Upper Cook Inlet, including age-class distribution, residency/movement patterns, behavior, and social group structure.
- Develop abundance estimates of CIBW using mark-recapture models.
- Determine CIBW life history characteristics, such as calving frequency, calving interval, period of maternal care/association, survival rates of calves, and survival rates of identified individuals.
This report addresses progress made in meeting objectives 2, 3, and 5, and is the second in a series of three reports from the 2008 field season. It contains results from analyses of photos of whales encountered and identified in 2008, including sighting rates, distribution, movement patterns, group associates, and reproductive information.