— A beluga found dead in a cove off the north shore of Alaska’s northern tip is the first confirmed death on the endangered species list, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday.
The beluga was about 1,000 pounds and weighed about 75 pounds, officials said.
The agency also confirmed the death of a beluga in a coastal waterway about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of Anchorage.
It was not immediately clear whether the deaths are linked.
The northern beluga, which is also called the beluga porpoise or the belugas backwater, is the last remnant of the last known population in the Arctic.
It has been at the end of a century-long decline.
Scientists say the northern belugers are declining by about 1 percent annually, but the number of animals is not known.
The western beluga is the only other species that has declined to about 20 percent of the number it once was.
The population was reduced by about a third in the early 20th century as people moved from the Arctic to Alaska and other parts of the country.