Volunteer

Thank you for your interest in our shore-based beluga monitoring program. Belugas are an important part of the Cook Inlet ecosystem and your participation in our monitoring efforts will provide researchers, managers, and the public with valuable information on beluga distribution, behavior, and habitat use in this region. As a volunteer, you’ll acquire knowledge about Cook Inlet belugas and their conservation needs, participate in beluga monitoring, and contribute to the collection of scientific data on beluga habitat use. This is an excellent way to support Cook Inlet beluga conservation and recovery all while enjoying your local ecosystem!

We strive to foster an inclusive environment where all people feel accepted in our volunteer program. Diversity strengthens and enriches our work and we welcome people of all backgrounds and identities, including race, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity, gender expression, faith/religion, age, sexual orientation, ability, socioeconomic background, and familial status. We want our volunteers to feel they can bring their authentic selves to our program and we know that a diversity of voices, perspectives, and ideas is critical. We are always pushing to improve so please reach out if you have any suggests on how we can do better (alaskabmp@gmail.com).

WE HOST TWO MONITORING SEASONS Annually

Fall: August 15th – November 15th | Spring: March 15th – May 31st

HOW TO BECOME A BELUGA CITIZEN SCIENTIST?
  • Step 1. Attend a volunteer orientation

    Orientations (60-90 minutes) are held at the start of each monitoring season in Anchorage, Girdwood, and Soldotna. A virtual recording of our Spring 2021 orientation is available below for anyone to view at anytime that works for them. During orientation, we provide you with information on our monitoring activities and provide instruction on how to follow our monitoring protocols and use our data sheets.  Our monitoring protocol provides a standardized methodology for conducting shore-based beluga monitoring and enables the systematic collection of field observations so that our data can directly be used for management and conservation of these animals. Additional orientations will be held throughout the season on an as needed basis. All participants must be at least 18 years of age unless accompanied by an adult guardian.

    RECORDED VOLUNTEER ORIENTATION (Fall 2021)

    *signup for our newsletter to get season updates

  • Step 2. Complete volunteer application and waiver

    Once you have completed the volunteer orientation we will send you an email with the application and waiver. Both will need to be completed and emailed back to the coordinator before you can attend any monitoring sessions for further training. You will not have access to the session signup schedule until you complete both of these.

  • Step 3. In-person monitoring training

    You must signup for at least one monitoring session with a lead observer to get field training before you can monitor on your own. This way we can make sure all of our volunteers are on the same page. You can signup for as many sessions with a lead observer as you want. We want you to feel confident and comfortable with our monitoring protocol.

  • You are ready to monitor!

    Once you complete steps 1 -3 you are ready to monitor on your own! You can find everything you need under the “Monitor” tab. If you would like more information on how to become an Alaska Beluga Monitoring Partnership (AKBMP) volunteer please email the coordinator at alaskabmp@gmail.com.

WHAT DOES A BELUGA CITIZEN SCIENTIST DO?
  • MONITORING

    We have a fall (August 15 – November 15) and spring (March 15 – May 15) monitoring season where we have daily monitoring sessions. Each monitoring session lasts around two hours and is scheduled around the tide for when belugas are known to be in the area. Volunteers can view and sign up to attend monitoring sessions on our AKBMP monitoring schedule, which will be made available to volunteers after they attend a monitoring orientation and submit their volunteer forms. We ask that each volunteer commit to attending a minimum of three monitoring sessions over the course of a monitoring season (about a six hour commitment in total); however, there is no maximum limit on how many sessions a volunteer may attend.

  • DATA ENTRY

    Volunteers are expected to use the AKBMP datasheets to collect their observations and submit their observations on an online platform after their monitoring sessions. Both the data sheets and data entry process are very simple and easy to use. You will get extensive training from the volunteer orientation and the lead observer training sessions. If you like taking photos, we encourage our volunteers to take photos of the belugas during their session and submit them with their data.

  • STEWARDSHIP

    As a AKBMP beluga citizen scientists you will acquire knowledge about Cook Inlet belugas and their conservation needs. Participating in beluga monitoring will give you first hand experience with these animals and their habitat. The information you collect will provide researchers, managers, and the public with valuable information about this endangered species.


OTHER WAYS TO GET INVOLVED:

 If you are not interested in participating in our shore-based monitoring sessions you can still help with Cook Inlet beluga conservation. When you are adventuring around Cook Inlet it is very common to see beluga whales. These sightings are valuable and you can report them! 

  • Not sure what information is important, click here to find out what to write down.

Every sighting is a valuable sighting when a species is endangered.


OUR MONITORING SITES:

Ship Creek

Hosted by Beluga Whale Alliance (this site is also apart of their Citizen Science Monitoring Program) and co-hosted by Defenders of Wildlife. We monitor from the small boat launch.

Mile Marker 95.3 Pullout (on Seward Highway)

Hosted by Beluga Whale Alliance (this site is also apart of their Citizen Science Monitoring Program). Pullout is east of Bird Point.

Twentymile River

Hosted by Beluga Whale Alliance (this site is also apart of their Citizen Science Monitoring Program)

Kenai River

Hosted by the Alaska Wildlife Alliance and Kenai Peninsula College. We monitor from Spur View Picnic Ground.

Kasilof River

Hosted by the Alaska Wildlife Alliance and Kenai Peninsula College. We monitor from the Kasilof Beach Dipnetting location.