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Kenai- Beluga Whale Monitoring Program Volunteer Training

  • Kenai River Center (map)

The Alaska Beluga Monitoring Partnership (AKBMP) is a collaboration between several organizations, including AWA) that offer opportunities for volunteer citizen scientists to contribute to endangered beluga monitoring efforts 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.

Our first collaborative field season will commence August 15 and end November 15, 2019. During this season, our partner organizations will be monitoring beluga activity from our established monitoring sites at the base of the Twentymile and Kenai Rivers. This year we will also be expanding to new monitoring sites at the base of the Kasilof River, Bird Point, and Ship Creek in Anchorage.

As a citizen science monitoring volunteer you can collect important data on beluga distribution and habitat use in nearshore waters while building working relationships with professional researchers and scientists. The data you collect will be shared with researchers (including Cook Inlet Photo-ID) and federal agency personnel to inform ongoing marine mammal research and management activities and will be incorporated into NOAA’s Beluga Sightings Databases.

Become a Beluga Citizen Scientist:

As a volunteer citizen scientist you’ll acquire knowledge about Cook Inlet belugas and their conservation needs, participate in beluga monitoring, and contribute to the collection of scientific data on beluga habitat use at one of our monitoring sites. This is an excellent way to support beluga conservation and recovery all while enjoying your local ecosystem!

If you’d like to sign up with us as a volunteer citizen scientist or receive more information about our monitoring activities, please contact us here. Prior to attending a monitoring session, each volunteer will be asked to fill out a short volunteer application and attend an in-person orientation (about 60-90 minutes in total). Orientations will be held in Anchorage, Girdwood, and Kenai in mid-late August, during which we will provide you with more information on our monitoring activities and provide instruction on how follow our monitoring protocols and use our data sheets to record beluga activity in the field. Additional orientations will be held in each of those locations on an as needed basis. If no upcoming orientations are scheduled for your area, you can also complete an abbreviated orientation in the field with one of our partners at your preferred monitoring site. All participants must be at least 18 years of age unless accompanied by an adult guardian. We will be happy to help participants document their volunteer hours for course credit or any other purpose.

Monitoring Dates (2019)

Fall Monitoring Season: August 15 – November 15, 2019

Each monitoring session lasts about two hours and is typically scheduled around the time at high tide at each monitoring site. Volunteers can view and sign up to attend monitoring sessions on our AKBMP Monitoring Schedule, which will be made available to volunteers after they attend a monitoring orientation and submit their volunteer forms to one of our partner programs. We ask that each volunteer commit to attending a minimum of three monitoring sessions over the course of a field season (about a six hour commitment in total); however, there is no maximum limit on how many sessions a volunteer may attend. Updates about monitoring orientations and sessions will also be posted on our Facebook page.