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10 stranded beluga whales in Turnagain Arm swim free

Alaska Dispatch

According to the Associated Press, 10 beluga whales were stranded yesterday in Turnagain Arm, near Hope, Alaska.

NOAA spokeswoman Julie Speegle told the Associated Press that the report of the stranded whales came in Tuesday afternoon. Speegle said that NOAA officials were sent to investigate and found the 10 white whales beached on the western side of Turnagain Arm south of Girdwood, Alaska, and near the small town of Hope.

According to NOAA officials, the belugas became stranded during low tide but were able to swim free after 6 p.m. when the tide came back in.

Officials were particularly concerned about the stranded Cook Inlet belugas because of their endangered status. Losing such a large number at once would've been disastrous, but fortunately all 10 were able to free themselves.

According to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Belugas are white, shallow-water whales, sometimes seen feeding on fish in Cook Inlet. The best time to see belugas is at high tide from mid-July through August when salmon make their spawning runs. Adult males reach 11 to 15 feet and weigh 1,000 to 2,000 pounds.

The estimated population of Cook Inlet belugas is just 284 animals, according to NOAA -- about 20 percent fewer than the previous survey.