Only 300 Beluga Whales Left reports AquaTails. This just in from The Sierra Club: The Cook Inlet in Alaska is home to an isolated and distinct population of beluga whale – one of the most endangered populations of marine mammals in the world.
Only about 300 individuals remain! Already on the brink of extinction, the beluga is now facing multiple new threats – increased oil and gas drilling, port expansions, and the proposed Chuitna Coal Strip Mine, just 45 miles west of Anchorage, Alaska.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Service has proposed designating more than 3,000 square miles of ocean as critical habitat for the highly endangered Cook Inlet population of the beluga whale. March 3rd is the deadline for the comment period – let them know that designating critical habitat would be a crucial first step in protecting this iconic species.
Please sign our petition today to protect critical habitat these magnificent and endangered whales need to survive. During the 1980s the population numbered approximately 1,300 whales. Even though hunting was curtailed in 1999, the number has continued to drop precipitously, demonstrating that many other factors, such as dramatic increases in offshore oil and gas development, are continuing to harm the whale. The proposed Chuitna Coal Strip Mine would:
- Increase dangerous ship traffic through the beluga’s critical habitat. According to the current proposals, coal from the proposed mine will be shipped overseas.
- Decimate a salmon stream that is part of the Cook Inlet and supplies a portion of the beluga’s primary food source.
- Dump millions of gallons of toxic mining waste into the Cook Inlet watershed each day.
Giving the Cook Inlet beluga the critical habitat designation as required by the Endangered Species Act would ensure that all future development in the area would not adversely impact the population and give it the opportunity to recover.
Time is running out before the March 3rd deadline – sign our petition today! Tell NOAA that designating critical habitat would be a crucial first step in protecting this iconic species. Sincerely, Sarah Hodgdon Sierra Club Conservation Director