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.
- Tim McLeod, AEL&P’s president, says the company thought heating with natural gas could save customers money but circumstances have changed.
- Senate President Pete Kelly said the plan in Senate Bill 70 will prevent spending from getting out of control. The Senate isn't including an income tax.
- Hilcorp recently informed state regulators that the company is unlikely to begin repairs on a gas leak in Cook Inlet until mid- to late March, according to a letter obtained by Alaska's Energy Desk through a public records request.
- At a meeting in Anchorage Friday with elected officials from around the Arctic, Murkowski said she's fielding questions about potential changes in U.S. policy.