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Cook Inlet Beluga Count cancelled again



There will be no organized beluga whale count in Cook Inlet again this year. Due to the impacts of Covid-19, NOAA Fisheries has decided to cancel the 2021 Belugas Count! Event.

Jon Kurland, director of NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region’s Protected Resources Division, said in a release that due to the status of the pandemic, “NOAA Fisheries and its partners decided to cancel the 2021 Belugas Count! event, as they did in 2020, out of an abundance of caution.”

He called the decision regrettable.

    Belugas Count! is a citizen science opportunity and festival event usually held in September, when viewing endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales is optimal. To help fill the information pause caused by the cancellation, NOAA Fisheries announced it will hold a NOAA Live! Alaska online webinar on September 10 focused on Cook Inlet beluga whales. (

In October 2008, NOAA Fisheries listed Cook Inlet beluga whales as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The isolated population continues to decrease at about 2.3 percent per year, and a 2016 recovery plan guides efforts to reverse the decline. Scientists estimate there are about 270 beluga whales left in Cook Inlet.

NOAA Fisheries has also designated Cook Inlet beluga whales as one of nine “Species in the Spotlight” — species in need of a concerted effort by individuals, agencies, groups, tribes, institutions, and organizations large and small to survive. The goal is to have partners and interested members of the public work together to recover the species.

If you observe beluga whales you can still report them to the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Project. ( NOAA says the best time to look for Cook Inlet belugas is 3-4 hours before high tide. 

For the latest information on where and when to view Cook Inlet belugas, check the Belugas Count! Facebook page.  

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