Wednesday, March 01, 2006

More information about Whaling

We have received many questions about whaling. Here is some more information about whaling.
  • 9 whaling crews all go out on the same day to hunt whales
  • By law, they are allowed 3 whales a year (they are limited to three because they are endangered species)
  • Bowhead Whales range from 20 feet up to 59 feet! Last year one of the whales we got was 157 years old!
  • We harpoon the whales and then tie it to all 9 boats and drag it back to shore. We are usually about 10 miles out in the ocean - to drag the whale 10 miles it can take up to 4 hours!
  • We use typical speed/fishing boats to get the whales - in some villages they use seal skin (traditional) boats.
  • Whaling can be very dangerous if you are not careful - some of the dangers are: capsizing the boat, the harpoon bouncing off the whale, and ropes snapping
  • The entire town is involved in the whaling process - when the whale is brought back to shore everyone cheers on the whaling crews and helps bring it on to the beach. Then everyone stands on top of the whale (tradition) - we then have to clean off the whale using the buckets of a loader filled with water. Then the men start cutting up the whale; while the men are cutting the whale up the women are cutting the large chunks into smaller (edible) pieces and some women are cooking food and hot beverages for everyone. The elder men are constantly sharpening the cutting tools (they get dull very quickly). We also have to watch out for polar bears. Polar Bears love whale and can smell it from 60 miles out. If polar bears start swimming up to the beach where we are cutting the whale up we shoot fireworks into the sky to scare them off. When the whale is finally cut up (can take over 24 straight hours) we bring the carcass (remains) out to the end of the island where the whale bone pile is. We put it far away from the village because the polar bears like to eat the carcass.
  • We usually go whaling starting right around Labor Day (depending on the weather)


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