Cook Inlet Beluga Whales were listed as endangered in 2008 and have an estimated population of only 328 individuals as of 2016. Part of their habitat includes the Eagle River Flats Range on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) north of Anchorage, Alaska. The Department of Defense (DoD) works in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA Fisheries) to research the whales in those waters.
Join JBER and NOAA scientists in this 360-degree video while they study these whales from both a boat and while ashore.
Photo ID Project:
The Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Photo ID Project photographically tracks individual belugas by identifying their natural markings. Over time, sighting histories are compiled for each known whale and researchers are able to learn more about the distribution, habitat use, social structure, and reproduction of the Cook Inlet beluga whales.
In this 360-degree video, Dr. Tamara McGuire explains the process of identifying Treasure, a beluga whale that they've been able to follow through photography since 2005.
Cook Inlet averages a 30-foot tidal range around Anchorage, Alaska, which can strand Cook Inlet Beluga Whales on mud flats at low tide. Sometimes this even happens to dozens of individual whales at a time. They are forced to wait in shallow pools until the tide returns again, often at dangerous currents of up to 20 feet per second.
In this 360-degree video time lapse, watch the tidal change at two locations in Cook Inlet and see drone footage of a mother and calf stranded at low tide in Turnagain Arm.