Annual Calf Indices for Beluga Whales in Cook Inlet Alaska, 2006–2012
In this study, scientists describe techniques used to create a calving rate index and discuss the implications for the conservation and recovery of the depleted Cook Inlet, Alaska beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) population.
Beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in Cook Inlet, Alaska form an isolated, depleted population that is now listed as endangered. Calving rates are an indicator of population health and potential for recovery. Most births in Alaska beluga whale populations occur by late July, so systematic aerial surveys were conducted in August. These surveys covered primary habitat in upper Cook Inlet and were compared to similar surveys conducted in June. Paired video cameras, one capturing the entire beluga group and the other magnified to detect smaller, darker whales, provided images used in laboratory analysis.
Roderick C. Hobbs, Christy L. Sims, Kim E. W. Shelden, Linda Vate Brattstrom, and David J. Rugh. Published in Marine Fisheries Review 77(2), 2015.