Beluga sightings! Now's the time to whale watch
According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Beluga Whale sightings are on the rise along the Turnagain Arm.
Sue Goodglick, who works with ADFG's Marine Mammals Research Program, says the critically endangered species live in the Cook Inlet year round but become much more visible in mid-April through mid-May. The opportunistic feeders are most likely following the hooligan right now, Goodglick says.
ADFG recommends visiting the Cook Inlet Whale Photo-ID project website to see where the whales are being spotted. Right now, Goodglick says, Belugas are being reported all along the Turnagain Arm-- especially towards the head of the Arm and in Kenai.
"If you see [Beluga] whales, consider yourself fortunate!" Goodglick says. "Of a population that was once over 1300 animals, there are only between 300 to 400 animals now."
ADFG and other collaborators are conducting several research projects to learn why the population hasn't recovered.
There is whale-watching etiquette, Goodglick says. Keep noise levels down and secure any personal items and trash.
"We want to enjoy these whales, however, ensure we are not impacting their behavior or habitat," she says. "Have fun! Please keep your distance-- at least 100 yards-- or greater, if you are changing their behavior-- if viewing Beluga whales and other marine mammals from a boat."
If you spot a dead or live stranded or beached whale, you're asked to call the statewide 24-hour stranding hotline at (877) 925-7773.
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