Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Citizen Science & Interpretation Program 

Collecting beluga whale sightings data and providing outdoor education.

The waters of Cook Inlet surrounding Alaska’s largest city provide critical habitat to geographically isolated and critically endangered beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) that currently number 279 individuals and are visible on a seasonal basis from many public sites.

Since 2017, 501(c)3 nonprofit Beluga Whale Alliance (BWA) has conducted a flagship Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Citizen Science and Interpretation Program as an ongoing, community-oriented program whose primary goal is to increase public awareness, support of, and direct participation in Cook Inlet beluga conservation in the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area through the collection of general and scientific beluga sightings data, as well as by providing innovative outdoor educational programming.

This program supports as its key components official recovery actions calling for increased monitoring and public engagement to promote the survival of Alaska’s most critically endangered beluga population and lays the groundwork for developing a long-term, sustainable model of community-based beluga conservation in the National Heritage Area, also BWA’s home region. It also supports their ‘global’ vision of beluga conservation by connecting local people to ‘belugas in their backyard’ and belugas as a species.

  • Grant Type: Community Grant
  • Grantee:  Beluga Whale Alliance
  • Completed: 2021
  • Project Duration: One Year
  • Award Amount: $1,295
  • Match Generated: $12,486