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THE WHALE HUNT

30/01/2012

USA |

A 1000yr-old tradition, the Inupiat whale hunt provides the community’s annual food supply, currently limited by international law to 22 whales a year.

Each spring as the ocean thaws, ice breaks away from the mainland as a single massive chunk, which then floats out to sea, creating a canal of open water called the “lead”.

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It is through this lead that Bowhead whales migrate north to the Arctic Circle, where they spend summers, surfacing for air every 3045 minutes en route.

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We saw hundreds of whales on the horizon…

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On the 4th day – 2 whales (each 36ft long and weighing around 40 tons) were harpooned, hauled up onto the ice using a block and tackle system that resembles a giant tug of war between man and sea, and summarily butchered, the meat and blubber then distributed to the Barrow Community.

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This project has nothing to do with politics. It is about storytelling, and makes no comment on the politics of hunting whales.

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Subsistence Whaling is the hunting of whales by aboriginal groups who have a tradition of whaling. Commercial Whaling is the hunting of whales for commerical profit.

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After spending 9days with an Inupiat family in Barrow, Alaska, observing their traditional whale hunt, one can’t help but to support their right to continue whaling, in compliance with scientifically determined annual quotas, because…

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Nutritionally, whale meat has allowed the Inupiats to subsist in the Arctic for thousands of years (where farming is impossible due to eleven months of snow covered ground, and where fresh fruit and vegetables are flown in at great expense).

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Culturally, the Whale Hunt is equally important to the Inupiats, shaping their sense of honor, purpose, community, and identity.

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Let us know your thoughts on this issue! – Is it right for the Inupiats to continue to Whale Hunt??

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Source: Jonathan Harris

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