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Cook Inlet Belugas: A Population in Decline

June 09, 2021

The 10-year (2008-2018) Cook Inlet beluga whale population trend is declining 2.3% per year. The public is encouraged to report all beluga sightings to provide scientists with clues to help solve the mystery of their lack of recovery.

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Poster on the decline of Cook Inlet beluga whale population

Cook Inlet belugas are an isolated, endangered population of whales. They live year-round in the muddy waters of Cook Inlet, Alaska, and swim up silty glacial rivers in search of food. They are genetically different from other beluga whales found in Alaska, or anywhere else in the world. Historically a valuable part of the regional Alaska Native subsistence diet, they have not been hunted since 2005 due to their drastic population decline. Despite recovery efforts the 10-year (2008-2018) population trend is declining 2.3% per year. Once so abundant that white whales were visible ‘as far as the eye could see,’ sightings are less frequent. The public is encouraged to report all beluga sightings to provide scientists with clues to help solve the mystery of their lack of recovery.

Last updated by Alaska Regional Office on 06/10/2021

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