Cook Inlet Belugas ESA petition “The Cook Inlet population of beluga whales is a small, geographically isolated and genetically differentiated population facing the imminent threat of extinction.” Alaska Chapter of The Wildlife Society
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Beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) that inhabit Cook Inlet, Alaska, form a small, isolated stock that is geographically and genetically segregated from the other four stocks of belugas found in Alaskan waters. Genetic evidence indicates that beluga whales in Cook Inlet have not mixed with other beluga stocks for thousands of years.
Arctic Science Journeys
Beluga whales in Alaska's Cook Inlet near Anchorage are thought to be genetically unique among the 50,000 belugas that live in waters off Alaska.
O’Corry-Crowe et al. 1997. Phlyogeography, population structure and dispersal patterns of the beluga whale Delphinapterus leucas in the western Nearctic revealed by mitochondrial DNA. Molecular Ecology 6:955-970.
significant genetic structure among Alaskan populations
all populations differed significantly from all others
“Cook Inlet is the most genetically distinct of all geographical subpopulations with respect to mtDNA, an indication perhaps that the Alaska Peninsula may indeed be an effective barrier to genetic exchange or that drift in this small population offsets any homogenizing effects of gene flow.”
Brown Gladden, et al. 1999. Population structure of North American beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) based on nuclear DNA microsatellite variation and contrasted with the population structure revealed by mitochondrial DNA variation. Molecular Ecology 8:347-363.
populations from Norton Sound to St Lawrence River