Whale watching in Anchorage is unlike anywhere else. The inlet flowing alongside the city is home to pods of beluga whales, and their sleek gray and white backs can occasionally be spotted slipping through the waves of Knik or Turnagain Arm.

These Cook Inlet belugas are recognized as endangered species, numbering around 279 whales as of 2020. Various conservation efforts work to monitor and recover the local population. Spotting them in the wild is a unique, special part of any summer trip to Anchorage.

Get an alert when the whales are active in the Anchorage area: A text service operated by the Beluga Whale Alliance reports current whale sightings and expected activity around the upper Cook Inlet. Text “BELUGAS” to 33-222 to receive a message when whales are spotted around the city.

In September, participate in Belugas Count!, a marine mammal educational event. The annual celebration is hosted by NOAA Fisheries and partners with in-person opportunities to look for and count the Cook Inlet whales as well as virtual options to learn more.

The belugas are most commonly seen in late summer, as they chase and feed on salmon in the upper Cook Inlet. These whales do not jump or breach like other species, and they can often resemble passing whitecaps as they glide through the waves. Look for them on the incoming high tide. When belugas are active along the coastline, they can be watched from multiple scenic viewpoints around Anchorage. Try the Ship Creek Small Boat Launch, Point Woronzof Park, Beluga Point, or any of the many scenic turnoffs on the Seward Highway along Turnagain Arm.