Pre-Deployment Visual Monitoring for Beluga Whales in and Near the Cook Inlet Tidal Energy Project Proposed Deployment Area July 2009
Progress report of a study by LGL Alaska Research Associates, Inc., sponsored by Ocean Renewable Power Alaska (ORPC) to monitor beluga whale presence, relative abundance, and behavior off of the north side of Fire Island, Upper Cook Inlet, Alaska.
During May and early June, permits were obtained from Cook Inlet Region Inc. and the United States Coast Guard to allow for access to private lands and permission to utilize the Race Point Lighthouse Reservation lands for the observation site. After establishing a suitable observation site, LGL guided NOAA Fisheries staff on a site visit on June 15; NOAA Fisheries agreed the site would be suitable for the study observations. The beluga observations were initiated June 17, 2009.
Monitoring was conducted on nine days during June 2009 from the observation site near Race Point, Fire Island. Of these nine days, belugas were sighted on five days from the observation site. Of the five days, belugas were sighted throughout the month of June, none of the sightings were within the tidal project’s Deployment Area. A chartered small fixed-wing aircraft is being used to travel to Fire Island and supplemental observations are made during each trip; no belugas were sighted during any of the 18 flights made in June. Other marine mammal sightings include one harbor seal observed outside the Deployment Area. LGL’s monthly progress report for beluga monitoring is attached for reference.