AOOS Launches New Cook Inlet Beluga Ecosystem Portal

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Government agencies and the public can now find information on the endangered population of Cook Inlet beluga whales on an easy-to-use public data portal through the Alaska Ocean Observing System’s website at Extensive data on beluga whale sightings and environmental conditions in Cook Inlet has been collected over the past decade, but most of it is not easily found or used by both the public and agency experts. The new Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Ecosystem Portal is intended to correct that by integrating and visualizing beluga whale sighting data with other biological, physical, and socio-economic data in the Cook Inlet region. The portal is freely accessible and aims to improve the management and public awareness of Cook Inlet beluga whales.

AOOS has developed the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Ecosystem Portal in cooperation with NOAA, the agency that manages beluga whales, the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council (CIRCAC), and Axiom Data Science to provide a tool for ecosystem-based management of the Cook Inlet region. This portal is intended to help with several planning efforts including:

  • Alaska’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan
  • National Fish Habitat Action Plan
  • Strategic Plans Prepared by Alaska-based Fish Habitat Partnerships
  • Landscape Conservation Cooperatives
  • Alaska Coastal Impact Assistance Program
  • Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund
  • Partners for Fish and Wildlife Strategic Plans
  • US Fish & Wildlife Service Priority Species Plans

“Having all the pertinent data for managers, the public, local and regional governments, and industry in one accessible location would be of great use to all of us in our future planning and decision-making.”

Port of Anchorage Director Stephen Ribuffo

“ A tool that specifically improves access to information related to the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales will aid in targeting and filling data gaps and will aid in future research and policy decisions.”

CIRCAC Executive Director Michael Munger

“The proposed ecosystem portal will include information not only about the sightings of beluga whales, but will integrate information about natural (e.g., environmental, predator, and prey data) and anthropogenic (e.g., current and proposed development projects) stressors.”

Former NOAA Assistant Regional Administrator for Protected Resources, Jonathan M. Kurland

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