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Scientists study beluga whales

Beluga whales in Cook Inlet, delighting locals and tourists are decreasing in number which has made scientists puzzled and scared.

india Updated: Mar 02, 2006 14:09 IST

In the 1970s, there used to be about 1,300 beluga whales in Cook Inlet, delighting locals and tourists alike. Last year, the number was estimated at just 278. Why their numbers are dwindling has scientists puzzled and scared.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is embarking on a status review to determine if the belugas need the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act. The status review will look at possible reasons for the decline.

That includes changes in habitat, such as noise from shipping, recreational boating and pile driving. The noise could be interfering with the whales’ ability to locate each other and find food.

Scientists also will look at development around the inlet, including the expansion of the Port of Anchorage as well as impact of oil and gas development.

First Published: Mar 02, 2006 14:09 IST