Belugas are back in the inlet and your help is needed to keep track of them.

The Beluga Whale Alliance, as well as the Cook Inletkeepers, are working together to try to get people in the area to help monitor some of the beluga whales coming in for the season.

Jessi Thornton with the Cook Inletkeeper says this week's events are a part of a series set for the summer.

"We're a community-based non-profit and our mission really is to protect the health of the cook inlet watershed, as well as the communities and life that it sustains," said Thornton.

"And so every year we organize what we call the get to know your watershed adventure series," Thornton added. "So this is a series of workshops and events and trips all across the cook inlet watershed. We have got trips in Homer and Soldotna, all the way up here to Anchorage. And the purpose of that is really to get folks outside, get people connected to experts and people who are passionate about some aspect of the watershed. And hopefully get folks connected to this place and hopefully, that will lead people to really advocate for the health of the Cook Inlet watershed."

This week is all about the Beluga whales.

"We're really excited to partner with Cook Inletkeeper and another local non-profit partner, four valleys community school, to put on beluga citizen science programs this week," said Suzanne Steinert, with the Beluga Whale Alliance.

"So we'll be hosting, co-hosting with these partners, become a beluga citizen science workshop tomorrow from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., folks talking about the newest beluga related citizen science projects that are going on around the watershed. We'll have a project lead from down on the Kenai who will be coming up to talk about her beluga and marine mammal monitor program and how folks can get involved on the Kenai River. We'll have NOAA fishery staff in project lead for the beluga count event with us as well to talk about how folks can participate in that second annual event this coming September.
Then we'll do a little 101 training on how to monitor belugas," Steinert explained. 

Steinert says monitoring the belugas is really important.

"It contributes to our knowledge of the whales and will help inform recovery action. And doing so in a systematic, scientific way is really exciting and a way the public can be involved," she said.

The educational workshop is Thursday, April 12 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Girdwood. The Beluga safari is Saturday, April 14 from 6:30 a.m to 9:00 a.m at shore-based viewing stations along Upper Turnagain Arm.

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