The population of beluga whales in the Gulf of Alaska has reached the second low

Reducing the number of beluga whales in the Gulf of Cook Inlet (Cook Inlet) in Alaska to a second minimum in the last 20 years can be caused by chemicals in wastewater, but figuring out the full range of causes requires further study, reported online edition of the Alaska Dispatch.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the USA (NOAA), whose experts are long-term monitoring of the number of beluga whales in the Bay of Cook Inlet, the number of whales in 2011, dropped to 284, ie 20% compared to last year. Such fluctuations have occurred in the past: the absolute minimum number of animals was made in 2005, when scientists counted 278 individuals. However, given the average annual population decline of 1.1% this decline is alarming for a number of scientists.

One of the reasons why the population may be exposure to chemicals contained in the waste water that enter the Gulf of Cook Inlet from Anchorage after minimal treatment. However, according to experts, it could be much more.

Reducing population probably depends on many factors, but we never let them know if we do not carry on further research — Alaska Dispatch quoted words of the author of the book "Days of beluga" (Beluga Days), representative of the environmental group Cook Inletkeeper Nancy Lord (Nancy Lord).

However, some scientists believe that the current sharp decline in the number, which can serve as an occasion to draw attention to the problems of these animals, however, does not mean imminent extinction of the population.

"The most valuable long-term observations, which show a general trend of population status … change in the population from one year to less important" — are on site monitoring the words of the head of beluga whales in NOAA Rod Hobbs (Rod Hobbs) on the organization's website.

In April 2011, the waters of the Gulf of Cook Inlet was considered critical to the survival of populations of the same name by beluga whales on the verge of extinction, and is listed in the "Law of endangered biological species" (Endangered Species Act, in force since 1973). This year, scientists from NOAA will continue to work on a plan for the rehabilitation of this population of beluga whales.

RIA Novosti

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