Pre-Deployment Visual Monitoring for Beluga Whales in and Near the Cook Inlet Tidal Energy Project Proposed Deployment Area August 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.
LGL Alaska Research Associates, Inc (LGL) completed the removal of vegetation to clear the observation site early July as well as the construction of an observation tower (completed August 4th) that will provide protection from wildlife, weather, and a higher vantage point clear of growing vegetation. The beluga whale observations were continued in July with a total of 16 observation days (81.22 hours). Two survey days had to be canceled due to high winds which grounded crew-transport aircraft. Modifications are being made to the survey schedule to address issues of access due to weather conditions.
Beluga whales were not observed within the Deployment Area but were observed on four of the 16 days outside of the Deployment Area, generally near the Susitna River area. Belugas were not observed during aircraft travel to or from Fire Island. Further, no other marine mammal sightings were recorded during the July survey. LGL’s monthly progress report for beluga monitoring is attached for reference and includes figures locating the beluga sightings.