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What’s Happening:  2016 Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Survey Takes Flight

Lower Cook Inlet
A video still of the spectacular view of the coast in lower Cook Inlet. As we fly along the coast, we also explore coves, rivers, channels, and bays (weather permitting) during our search for belugas.  Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries.

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June 1  Lower Cook Inlet Survey: No Belugas but Plenty of Wildlife

We spent two days surveying the coastline and offshore tracklines of lower Cook Inlet (the region south of East Foreland and West Foreland). Although belugas have rarely been seen in the lower inlet during our June surveys and, when observed, only in small numbers, we continue to monitor this area.

In the 1970s, belugas were found in greater numbers in the lower inlet and reoccupying these areas may be a sign of recovery.

We did not find any belugas during our almost 14 hours of surveys of the lower inlet but we did see harbor seals, sea otters, Steller sea lions, a minke whale, humpback whales, and harbor porpoises, as well as enjoy some great scenery and spotting some brown bears with cubs. One sighting in particular made our day, a humpback whale displaying bubble net feeding behavior.

Cook Inlet map
Map of Cook Inlet, Alaska, showing the offshore sawtooth tracklines flown during beluga whale surveys in June 2016.


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