Here is a map to show you what sites we have open for monitoring and where we have beluga sightings during sessions. Ship Creek, Mile 95.3 Pullout, and Kenai River are open, and we have seen belugas at Ship Creek and Kenai River. Mile 95.3 Pullout is not open for new volunteers because we haven't seen belugas at this site yet and can't train you until belugas show up. With our sighting at Ship Creek on March 29th, it shouldn't be long before we start seeing them in Turnagain Arm.
Orange star = site open for current volunteers to monitor. Beluga = beluga(s) seen during a session and open to new volunteers for training.
IMPORTANT DATASHEET CLARIFICATIONS:
MOTORIZED VESSELS: When recording motorized vessels, remember to record all vessels, whether they are moving or not. There has been some confusion about counting boats moored to buoys or docked. Yes, count all boats/ships/barges/vessels in the water, even if they are not moving.
SURFBOARDS AND PADDLEBOARDS: When monitoring at Mile 95.3 Pullout, remember to count surfboards and paddleboards in the water as nonmotorized vessels. They are in the inlet and are human activity. This goes for all sites but is most prevalent at Mile 95.3 Pullout.
If you are ready for your first training session, please feel free to signup with a lead observer at either Ship Creek or Kenai River. Currently, only three sites are open for monitoring due to Inlet conditions, but Mile 95.3 Pullout is not open for new volunteers yet. We have not seen whales during a session at this site, so we can not train new volunteers until whales show up. Thanks for your patience!
For those of you interested in monitoring our upper Turnagain Arm sites, this is why we haven't opened them up yet. This photo was taken by Lily Grbavach, Director of Education at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, from The Point on March 27th. The upper Arm is still too frozen for monitoring at The Point and Twentymile River. It is tough to spot whales with that view. Thanks Lily for keeping us updated!
Ship Creek Earliest Spring Sighting
One of our outstanding volunteers, Kate Swenson, had incredible timing last week! She got this beautiful video of an adult beluga at Ship Creek during the first session at this site on March 29th. This is a significant sighting because it is not only the first of this spring season but the earliest sighting we have had during an AKBMP session (our only March sighting during a session). Thanks for scoping out the site and for the wonderful video, Kate!
CLICK TO WATCH
Kenai River Beluga Streak
Get out to the Kenai River and monitor a session! The first sighting was on March 26th, and we have seen whales in the river every day, including today, April 4th. That is ten days in a row! These sightings were thanks to our volunteers and other local community members who reported their sightings to the Alaska Wildlife Alliance text alert. Lots of beluga action and lots of sessions to fill!
Belugas surfacing in the Kenai River. Photo Credit: Kelly Hild
Beluga Text Alerts
Two of our partner organizations have text alerts for you to stay updated—information for signing up is below.
TEXT “BELUGAS” TO 33-222 TO SIGN UP FOR OUR CRITICALLY ENDANGERED COOK INLET BELUGA ALERTS
All sightings are valuable, and you can report them!
Not sure what information is important, click here to find out what to write down.
Every sighting is a valuable sighting when a species is endangered.
Spring 2023 Flyer: (Click, download, share, and spread the word!)
Alaska Beluga Monitoring Program Cook Inlet, Alaska
AKBMP is a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) program in collaboration with local partner organizations: Alaska Wildlife Alliance (AWA), Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC), Beluga Whale Alliance (BWA), Defenders of Wildlife Alaska (DOW), and Kenai Peninsula College (KPC).