The Cook Inlet beluga whales, known as the canaries of the sea because of the many different sounds they make, are now critically endangered! Following a rapid decline in abundance during the 1980s -1990s, the federal government designated the Cook Inlet beluga population as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) in 2002 and endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2008. Once a valuable part of the regional Alaska Native subsistence diet, the Cook Inlet beluga population has not recovered and has declined by nearly 75% since 1979—from about 1,300 whales to around 330 today.
ALASKA BELUGA MONITORING PARTNERSHIP
The Alaska Beluga Monitoring Partnership (AKBMP) is a collaboration between Alaska Wildlife Alliance and several organizations that facilitate citizen science beluga monitoring in Alaska’s Cook Inlet. Together, we design standardized scientific monitoring protocols, train volunteers to support monitoring efforts, and coordinate shore-based beluga monitoring activities at various sites throughout Cook Inlet.