KENAI, Alaska (AP) - A researcher who spent more than two months monitoring beluga whales in the Kenai River says they showed up earlier and in greater numbers than previously estimated.

The Peninsula Clarion reports Alaska Sea Grant fellow Kim Ovitz in mid-March began recording beluga activity from six sites between the Kenai beach and Cunningham Park at river Mile 6.5, Ovitz counted 367 whales in 66 days of observation.

She says the belugas spent considerable amount of time in the river.

She says she thought they would mill around in the river mouth and leave, but that wasn't the case.

Ovitz saw belugas almost daily until April 30 but none in May, the month when hooligan usually enter the river.

She says that leads to questions of what belugas are eating.

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