Traditional Knowledge of the Ecology of Belugas in Cook Inlet, Alaska
This study systematically documents the knowledge of hunters of Cook Inlet belugas and adds to the information available on the population. Most of the information is centered on the region from Kenai River across the inlet to Trading Bay and north to Knik Arm and Chickaloon Bay.
The population of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in Cook Inlet, Alaska is geographically isolated and appears to be declining. Conservation efforts require appropriate information about population levels and trends, feeding and behavior, reproduction, and natural and anthropogenic impacts. This study documents traditional ecological knowledge of the Alaska Native hunters of belugas in Cook Inlet to add information from this critical source.
Traditional knowledge about belugas has been documented elsewhere by the author, and the same methods were used in Cook Inlet to systematically gather information concerning knowledge of the natural history of this beluga population and its habitat. The hunters’ knowledge is largely consistent with what is known from previous research, and it extends the published descriptions of the ecology of beluga whales in Cook Inlet. Making this information available and involving the hunters to a greater extent in research and management are important contributions to the conservation of Cook Inlet belugas.
Henry P. Huntington. Published in Marine Fisheries Review 62(3), 2000.