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After Nearly 20 Years, NOAA Surveys Norton Sound Beluga Whale Population

Study transects for the beluga whale aerial survey in Norton Sound. Photo Credit: NOAA Fisheries, 2017

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, or NOAA Fisheries, in conjunction with two other Alaska entities, is conducting a survey of beluga whales in Norton Sound. Surveys of this area’s beluga whale population have not been taken since the year 2000.

The Alaska Beluga Whale Committee, the North Slope Borough, and NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska Fisheries Science Center are doing aerial surveys of the Eastern Bering Sea as well as near the Yukon River Delta until June 29th.

According to a press release from NOAA, having updated population information on beluga whales will help managers and subsistence users recognize trends to help maintain a “healthy beluga whale population.”

Pilots and the team of surveyors began by flying out of Nome on Friday with aircraft from Clearwater Air.

Image above: study transects for the beluga whale aerial survey in Norton Sound. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries, 2017