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.
- Alaska Airlines pilots have reached a breaking point in negotiations with the company, and now have plans to picket outside Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. The pilots plan to picket starting at 1 p.m. Monday outside the airport in Anchorage.
- Jenkins was taking a practice run through the class four rapids when a bystander filming the event, noticed another participant, Daniel Hartung, 64, of Indian Valley, flipped out of his kayak and became pinned under a log.
- The Tazlina is the first of two new Alaska Class ferries that the Ketchikan Vigor Alaska shipyard is building for the state. Its two halves are complete and welded together, and shipyard workers are busy getting interior spaces done.
- The Alaska Marine Highway is taking reservations for October through April sailings. The schedule changed so the Matanuska can get new engines.