Beluga Whales in Cook Inlet, Alaska
Last week the EIA team was in Alaska to gather footage for an upcoming short film about the critically endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales. Given the total population is only about 350 individuals, the team was very lucky to enjoy many beluga sightings during their visit. In the past, the Cook Inlet population numbered about 1,500 and it was interesting to hear from long-time locals about their past experiences seeing hundreds at a time all over the Inlet.
The EIA team also spent time interviewing local beluga experts and advocates to learn their perspectives on why the beluga population isn't recovering. This included discussions about the potential impacts of climate change, noise, pollution, fisheries oil and gas development on the recovery of the whales. The local organization Inlet Keeper is a good place to learn more about the Cook Inlet beluga whales.
The team also participated in the Cook Inlet Belugas Count Day, a citizen science and awareness raising event, organized by NOAA. Images collected on Belugas Count day will help the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Photo ID Project.