Despite attempts to help them recover, the population of the endangered beluga whales living in Alaska’s Cook Inlet is still declining.
Beluga whales in Cook Inlet were once so numerous that they turned the waters into what looked like a sea of whitecaps. Sadly, unregulated hunting caused the numbers to decrease to an estimated 369 whales in the 1980s and 1990s.
Hunting ceased in 1999 with hopes for a recovery … but that didn’t happen. The latest estimate which was released in January is an upsetting 279.
Experts are unable to pinpoint a single factor that’s preventing the beluga whales from bouncing back … but a combination of reasons is possible, including pollution, noise, disease, changes in food availability, and changes to habitat from development or warming waters.
Although more research is needed in order to find a way to help, significant budget cuts are preventing agencies from moving forward.
If unregulated hunting didn’t happen, we wouldn’t be here in the first place.
At Karmagawa, we believe more regulation is needed to prevent populations of the world’s beautiful animals from disappearing. We have to do better and use our voice to let people know.
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How does it make you feel that Cook Inlet might never again be filled with beluga whales like it once was? Leave a comment below.
(Cover image: vostapenko/Shutterstock)