The number of endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales is up a bit from last year, but not enough to indicate a turn-around in the population’s slow decline.
That’s according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center, which announced Thursday that the 2012 whale population is 312 animals, up from 284 in 2011. During the past ten years, the number of belugas has ranged from 278 whales to a high of 366.
In the 1970s, the population was an estimated 1,300.
NOAA scientists say more research is needed, but a 2011 review and assessment describes a number of sub-lethal stresses on Cook Inlet belugas. Those include pollution, diminished habitat, and changing water temperatures.
The agency is developing a recovery plan for the Cook Inlet beluga whale, which in 2008 was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
- Roughly 16,000 pounds of chum spilled onto Egan Drive Monday afternoon. Declared unsafe for consumption, the fish have been destroyed.
- Juneau residents met Sunday to discuss race relations and ways to prevent racial violence.
- The state's Palmer Correctional Facility is slated to close. It's a money-saving measure called for by Gov. Bill Walker.
- Metlakatla Democratic National Convention delegate Gavin Hudson campaigned for Bernie Sanders. But he's in Hillary Clinton's camp now.