Harbor Porpoise, Phocoena phocoena vomerina, in Cook Inlet, Alaska

Kim E. W. Shelden, Beverly A. Agler, John J. Brueggeman, Leslie A. Cornick, Suzann G. Speckman, Amanda Prevel-Ramos
2014 Marine Fisheries Review  
Harbor porpoise, Phocoena phocoena vomerina, in Cook Inlet, Alaska, are managed as part of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) stock. It is not known if this population is distinct from porpoise in the GOA stock found outside Cook Inlet. No longterm dedicated studies of harbor porpoise have occurred in Cook Inlet. The objective here is to provide a summary of occurrence in Cook Inlet derived from archaeological data, anecdotal reports, and systematic surveys. Maps were created for each dataset. For 1,500
more » ... ears, Alutiiq Eskimo subsistence societies occupied lower Cook Inlet until abandoning the region around 600 A.D. During that time, harbor porpoise exploitation increased and eventually made up over one-third of the faunal remains by number at midden sites. The Dena'ina and Chugach Alutiiq continued porpoise hunting into the period of early contact in the late 1700's, after which there is no mention of continued exploitation. Harbor porpoise were rarely mentioned in expedition accounts collected by naturalists in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Beginning in 1958, pelagic fur seal, Callorhinus ursinus, investigators collected cetacean sightings in Alaska waters when seals were not present. However, none of the harbor porpoise sightings occurred in Cook Inlet. With the exception of one net entanglement in upper Cook Inlet in 1956, sightings and strandings (including fi sheries bycatch) were not reported in the inlet until the mid-1970's. Interactions with fi sheries factored in a quarter of the stranded animals recovered in Cook Inlet. Systematic surveys of bird and marine mammal populations increased during the 1970's and continued sporadically to the present day. One dedicated harbor porpoise aerial survey conducted in August 1991 estimated the population at 136 (CV = 63.2%), but this survey did not include the shoreline and many of the bays throughout Cook Inlet. An uncorrected abundance of 249 (CV = 60.7%) in June 1998 was based on offshore
doi:10.7755/mfr.76.1_2.2 fatcat:kdk3h4xwdvfqrlh6rtne3hzl7m