Beluga whales can be found swimming in the chilly waters around Alaska—but they may not be around for long. Cook Inlet beluga whales, a distinct population found near Anchorage, Alaska, are in danger of extinction.
The number of Cook Inlet beluga whales has plummeted nearly 60 percent in the past 15 years. Currently, only about 300 of the white whales are still alive. They are the unfortunate victims of human interference through hunting, industrial pollution, boat traffic, and the simple over-development of their habitat.
Ocean Conservancy originally petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to list the beluga as endangered back in 1999, but the agency turned us down. After years of scientific studies and more petitions from environmental organizations, however, the National Marine Fisheries Service is again considering listing Cook Inlet beluga whales as an endangered species.
An endangered listing would give the species a fighting chance by requiring the government to consider the impacts of its actions on the beluga, and ensure that those actions won’t cause the species to go extinct.