Species in the Spotlight: Priority Actions 2016-2020, Cook Inlet Beluga Whale
In 2015, NOAA Fisheries announced a new program to focus and redouble our efforts to protect eight species that are currently among the most at risk of extinction in the near future. This 5-year action plan focuses on priority actions for the Cook Inlet beluga whale.
The Species in the Spotlight initiative is a concerted agency-wide effort to spotlight and save the most highly at-risk species. This initiative includes targeted efforts vital for stabilizing their populations and preventing their extinction. The approach involves intensive efforts by us and our recovery partners to stabilize these species. Our goal is to stabilize or reverse their declining trend so that the species will become a candidate for recovery in the future.
The endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale was chosen as one of the eight most at-risk species because this declining population of small whales shares Cook Inlet with Alaska’s human population center, transportation hub, and largest concentration of industrial activity. The population has declined by nearly 75 percent since 1979, from about 1,300 whales to an estimated 340 whales in 2014. The rapid decline and dire status of the Cook Inlet beluga whale population makes it a priority for NOAA Fisheries and our partners to prevent extinction and promote recovery of this iconic species.