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.
- The state Division of Insurance plans to ask the feds to offset its costs for the Alaska Reinsurance Program.
- After a mild start to December, it’s gotten bitter cold in Haines and Skagway, with temperatures dropping into the teens and single digits. With temperatures far below freezing, snowfall from the weekend is not likely to go anywhere soon.
- As temperatures rise, Arctic ice is retreating, making trips through the Northwest passage – from Alaska to Maine – a new summer reality. But until now, mariners navigating Arctic ice have had limited formal training. A professor at Maine Maritime Academy is working to change that.
- One shot was fired in an officer-involved shooting Saturday, according to the Juneau Police Department. Police say Sgt. Chris Gifford fired the shot that injured Jeremie Shaun Tinney, 38, of Juneau while officers were investigating a single-vehicle crash in the 16500 block of Ocean View Drive.