AOOS and Axiom have been working to develop a publicly accessible data portal to improve management and public awareness of Cook Inlet beluga whales. This Portal will go live on the AOOS website this April.
The Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Ecosystem Portal combines the National Marine Fisheries Service Alaska Region Cook Inlet beluga whale sightings database with additional biological, physical and socio-economic data layers for use as a data integration and visualization tool. These data include oceanographic and environmental measurements from real-time sensors; regional oceanographic and climate models; bathymetry and habitat information; data on beluga whale predators and prey in Cook Inlet; local and traditional knowledge; other project-level GIS data; and current and planned major development activity locations. The intention of the portal is to improve access to critical scientific information to aid ecosystem-based management and recovery of the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale and habitat; and as an mechanism for increasing public, private sector, government and tribal knowledge about and support for environmental data related to Cook Inlet beluga whales. Disseminating this information and integrating it with other relevant data supports implementing the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Recovery Plan. This portal was made possible with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and the Cook Inlet Regional Citizen Advisory Council (CIRCAC).