MYSTIC, Conn. (AP) – A research scientist from the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut and several students are heading to Alaska for an annual research expedition to monitor the health of beluga whales.

Officials say students from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, one student with the aquarium’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program and research scientist Tracy Romano will leave for the trip Sunday.

The group will install satellite transmitters and take biological samples to determine how much climate change, pollution and other factors are impacting the well-being of the whales.

Aquarium officials say the work is critically important to humans, especially the Alaska Natives who can legally hunt belugas for sustenance.

The research expedition in North Slope will last from June 24 to July 7.

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