Welcome to the CIBW Sightings Page. Here you will find links to sightings maps from 2017-2020. Just click on the button below of the year you want to see the map for. Below you will also find beluga viewing tips and the beluga reporting form, and photo-upload options. We look forward to hearing from you.
TIPS FOR WHEN AND WHERE TO SEE CIBWS
We created the beluga sightings map as a quick reference for people to see where others are seeing belugas and we recommend taking a look there for current beluga viewing locations. However, we wanted to pass along information that we have learned from our 15 seasons of ice-free surveys (April-October) that will help improve your chances of viewing the Cook Inlet belugas on your own.
CIBWs tend to cluster in seasonal hot spots that are tidal dependent. In April and early May belugas can be seen sporadically in the Kenai River, and in Turnagain Arm near Twentymile River. These sightings are usually associated with the timing of the forage fish eulachon (Thaleichthys pacificus) spawning in these areas. Mid-May through mid-August the belugas are usually congregated in large groups (over 100!) along the Susitna River Delta where they are feeding on the eulachon and salmon runs, calving, and socializing. Beginning in mid-August, the large groups in the Susitna River Delta begin breaking up and moving into Knik Arm and Turnagain Arm. The belugas can be seen moving into Knik Arm and Turnagain Arm on rising tides, and then moving out of these areas on the falling tides. They will continue going into these areas well into October and December depending on ice conditions. In late August or early September the belugas also return to the Kenai River and are sporadically seen throughout the winter.
The easiest locations for people to see CIBWs are along the Seward Highway between Anchorage and Twentymile River, the coastal trail in Anchorage between Westchester lagoon and Ship Creek, and the Kenai River. Please, watch from shore only and do not approach them in any manner (boat, plane, kayak etc.)
Seward Highway/Turnagain Arm
-Best time to see belugas is 3-4 hours before Anchorage high tide. Belugas can be seen coming in with the tide.
-Best time of year is mid-August through October. Peak viewing is usually around the first week of September.
-Best viewing areas are Beluga Point, Windy Corner, the Bird Point viewing platform, and Mile Post 95.5. Please use only designated pullouts and parking places. The highway along Turnagain Arm is a dangerous location due to the high amount of traffic and narrow passageway so please be careful and considerate of other drivers.
Mouth of Ship Creek/Coastal Trail
-Best time of year to see whales is mid-August until the ice comes in.
-Whales are generally seen on falling tide/low tide, but have been seen on all tides here.
-Best viewing locations are Ship Creek boat launch, Coastal trail between Ship Creek and Westchester Lagoon, Pt. Woronzof, and Kincaid Beach area.
-Best time of year to see whales in Kenai are March-April, late August-October.
-Belugas are seen on all tide cycles here.
-Best viewing locations are the between the river mouth and the boat launch, Warren Ames Memorial Bridge, and Cunningham Park.
We hope these tips help. Don't forget to share your sightings and photos with us below. Happy beluga viewing !
REPORT YOUR SIGHTINGS
Please fill out the form below to share your sightings with the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Photo-ID Project.
We would also love for you to share your photos of belugas with us so that we compare to individual whales in our catalog. If we recognize the whale, we will share with you what we know of its history. Just upload photos using the DropBox feature below and let us know how to credit the photos.
We report all dead and injured belugas to the Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network, and share reports of all live beluga sighting with NMFS’s Marine Mammal Laboratory.
Here is a link to our instructions for photographing a beluga whales to be compatible with the CIBW Photo-ID Project protocols. (Please remember do not touch the whale, it is against the law):
Use the Dropbox feature to submit photos to the CIBW Photo-Id Project.