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Alaska Beluga Monitoring Partnership

Spring Season Begins!
 


Today is the first day of our first spring monitoring season! We are excited for our new volunteers that attended our first virtual volunteer orientation (or watched the recording). Thank you for joining the team. As well, we are happy to welcome back our current volunteers. We look forward to monitoring with all of you! 

This is our first spring season so we have little information about when belugas will return to our monitoring sites. Your monitoring will help shed light on when the belugas start returning to these nearshore habitats. Currently, all sites are open for monitoring except Twentymile River. The river is still ice-locked but we will let you know when conditions will allow monitoring at Twentymile River. You can keep updated on when belugas return to all our sites by following the Sighting Log on our website.

It is still winter out there, so please be careful and make sure you are prepared for the cold before you go. If you don't feel comfortable monitoring until it warms up we completely understand and as always volunteer safety is the highest priority. With that said, see below for our current monitoring requirements due to the current pandemic.

For new volunteers, we ask that you please be patient with us getting you trained up in the field this spring. Due to the pandemic, some of our partners are not able to help with training new volunteers this season and we are working with a smaller team of lead observers to conduct field training. Additionally, because this is our first spring season we do not know as much about when we will start seeing belugas at our sites. This is actually an important part of our program, learning when belugas first start utilizing nearshore areas of Cook Inlet after the winter months. Today our season officially starts and we would love to have you out there with us. Absolutely signup with lead observers and start learning about our sites and how the monitoring process works. But know that we can't train you to the fullest until belugas start showing up at our sites. If you like, you may wait until belugas start arriving before you signup for monitoring and field training. With that said we will keep you updated on when we start seeing belugas and you can follow along with our sighting log on our website.
If you are interested in volunteering but missed our virtual orientation this month, go to our Volunteer tab to learn the steps to becoming a volunteer. This year we are offering a recorded volunteer orientation so that anyone can watch it at their own convenience. If you have any questions about volunteering please don't hesitate to email us at alaskabmp@gmail.com
CLICK HERE FOR VOLUNTEER ORIENTATION
A Cook Inlet beluga calf (gray color) swimming with three larger beluga whales (white). Credit: Paul Wade/NOAA Fisheries.
Beluga Monitoring Refresher: 
  1. How to Monitor: The datasheets, monitoring key, and monitoring protocol are available on our website under the Resources tab. The monitoring protocol will walk you through everything you need to know for before, during, and after monitoring. If you want a refresher, feel free to watch our recorded volunteer orientation
  2. Session Signup: Where do you want to monitor? We have five sites: Ship Creek, Mile Marker 95.3 Pullout, Twentymile River, Kenai River, and Kasilof River. Go to our Monitor tab and click the site to view the schedule. Type your name in the "Volunteer Name" column for the monitoring session you want. If it is your first monitoring session please make sure to signup with a Lead Observer. If you can't make the session, as soon as you know, delete your name so someone else can fill the session. 
  3. Monitoring: Go to the site and monitor for the time slot you signed up for. On average the sessions are 2 hours long. For a reminder of site locations click here. Remember that the times can be a bit odd so make sure you are ready to go right when the session starts. For example, if your session starts at 6:13 PM get there around 6:00 PM so you are set-up and ready at the official time. Before you leave your session make sure you have all the information you need to complete your datasheets.
  4. Data Submission: Once you have completed your monitoring session the last thing to do is submit your data. There are three steps to this process:
    • Enter your data on the online form. Remember only one volunteer from each session needs to enter the data. 
    • Upload a copy/picture of your datasheets to the Datasheet-Upload Folder. Please save datasheets using the format: "Site_MMDDYY_FirstName_LastName". If you are not able to do this please email us so that we can arrange to collect your physical datasheets.
    • Upload beluga photos from your session to the Photo - Upload Folder. Create a folder and name it using the format: "Site_MMDDYY_FirstName_LastName". Add your photos to the folder you just created.
All of the resources mentioned above are under the Resources tab on the AKBMP website. Session signup and data entry are located under the Monitor tab. If you have any other questions or need clarification please don't hesitate to email us
Opportunistic Sightings: 
 
When you are adventuring around Cook Inlet it is very common to see beluga whales. These sightings are valuable and you can report them! 
Every sighting is a valuable sighting when a species is endangered.
Thank you for volunteering! 
 
- Alaska Beluga Monitoring Partnership
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Alaska Beluga Monitoring Partnership (AKBMP)
Anchorage, Alaska 

Support for this partnership and associated projects is provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service and our partner organizations: Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Beluga Whale Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife Alaska, and The Gardell Lab at Kenai Peninsula College, Kenai River Campus


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Alaska Beluga Monitoring Partnership · Rezanof Circle · Anchorage, Ak 99507 · USA

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