NOAA Fisheries and partners invite members of the public to participate in conserving the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales at the third annual “Belugas Count!” —being held Saturday, September 21, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., in the greater Anchorage area.
This celebration and citizen count is free and open to the public. No registration is required. People worldwide can join in on the Belugas Count Facebook page, where there will be live broadcasts.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., members of the public are invited to help spot and count Cook Inlet beluga whales at 14 staffed stations throughout Cook Inlet.
From 1 to 5 p.m., there is a free Beluga Festival at the Alaska Zoo in the Gateway Building with booths, family activities, and beluga-themed scientific talks throughout the afternoon. See a real beluga skeleton, escape a marine debris obstacle course, enjoy Alaska animal storytime, or learn how you can be a citizen scientist with the Alaska Beluga Monitoring Partnership.
This all-day citizen science celebration aims to bring together members of the public to focus on the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale, fostering local pride, awareness, and stewardship. It’s a collaboration among a variety of federal and state agencies, local and national organizations, as well as individuals.
Cook Inlet Beluga Whale History
In October 2008, NOAA Fisheries listed Cook Inlet beluga whales as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. This species continues a downward population trend. Scientists estimate there are between 300-400 beluga whales in Cook Inlet.
NOAA Fisheries has designated Cook Inlet beluga whales as one of eight “Species in the Spotlight” — species in need of a concerted effort by individuals, agencies, groups, tribes, institutions, and organizations large and small to survive. The goal is to have partners and interested members of the public work together to recover this species. Belugas Count! is an event designed to do that.
Partners in this event include: NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaska Beluga Monitoring Partnership, The Alaska Zoo, Alaskans for Palmer Hayflats, Alaska SeaLife Center, Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility, Audubon Alaska, Anchorage Waterways Council, Beluga Whale Alliance, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Cook Inlet Beluga Photo-ID Project, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, Georgia Aquarium, Glacier Oil and Gas, HilCorp, Mystic Aquarium, SeaWorld, Shedd Aquarium, U.S. Forest Service, University of Alaska Kachemak Bay Campus, and committed individuals.
10 a.m. – 2 p.m. : Cook Inlet Belugas Citizen Count, Upper Cook Inlet
The public is invited to help spot and count belugas at 14 staffed, shore-based viewing stations throughout Cook Inlet, from Homer to the Mat Su Valley (Bring your camera and binoculars!). No registration required.
1 – 5 p.m. : Beluga Festival, Gateway Building at the Alaska Zoo
Join us at the Alaska Zoo’s Gateway Complex (see map) for an afternoon event featuring beluga-related presentations (in the downstairs classroom), Animals of Alaska Storytime (for ages 0-5 and their families), plus fun activities for the whole family. Booths include displays and activities from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaska SeaLife Center, Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Alaska Zoo, Beluga Photo-ID project, Beluga Whale Alliance, Alaska Audubon, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Defenders of Wildlife, NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Forest Service, Anchorage Waterways Council, Tyonek Corporation, and the Alaska Beluga Monitoring Partnership. Note: Admission is free to the event, which is hosted outside Zoo gates.
Studying belugas at Georgia Aquarium to help learn more about the metabolic demands of wild belugas; a collaborative approach to research
Update on Cook Inlet beluga research
AK Veterinary Pathology Services:
Lessons from a beluga health detective
Ask the Beluga Experts:
A panel for the public