Photographing Stranded Beluga Whales for Identification - Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Photo-ID Project Protocol
Photo-ID project to provide information about individual Cook Inlet beluga whales and the population as a whole, including residency/movement patterns, habitat use, reproduction, and survival.
Over ten field seasons (2005-2014) the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale (CIBW) Photo-ID Project has developed a photo-catalog containing digital images of 312 individual CIBW possessing distinct natural markings that persist over time. Many photographs of these CIBW display marks indicative of disease and injury. By documenting the occurrence and frequency of these marks and attempting to identify mark sources, we can learn more about disease and injury affecting the endangered CIBW population. We also photograph beluga mortalities in order to note those previously identified whales in the catalog that have died, and also to examine possible cause of death. Continued collaboration among research projects in Cook Inlet increases the photographic documentation and examination of disease, injury, and mortality of Cook Inlet beluga whales.