Species in the Spotlight: Priority Actions 2021-2025, Cook Inlet Beluga Whale
The Species in the Spotlight initiative is a concerted agency-wide effort to spotlight and save marine species most at-risk of extinction in the near future. This plan focuses on priority actions needed in 2021-2025 for the Cook Inlet beluga whale.
In 2015, NOAA Fisheries launched the Species in the Spotlight initiative to provide immediate, targeted efforts to halt declines and stabilize populations of the species most at-risk of extinction in the near future. The priority action plans are part of a strategy to focus resources within and outside of NOAA, guide agency actions where we have discretion to make investments, increase public awareness and support for these species, and expand partnerships. The 2021-2025 Priority Action Plans outline actions that are needed in the next 5 years to address the most urgent threats to the species.
The endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale was chosen as one of the 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 79% since 1979, from about 1,300 whales to an estimated 279 whales in 2018. The rapid decline and dire status of the Cook Inlet beluga whale population makes it a priority for NMFS and our partners to prevent extinction and promote recovery of this iconic species.