Life Within Death - Nunavut And The Bowhead Whale

5개월 전

One whale feeds hundreds of people.

This Bowhead Whale skull stands as a memorial to the Inuit people of the community I call home. It represents a successful season where the Inuit got to eat traditional food that is greatly sought after. This is not like shooting a deer and feeding your family. This animal feeds hundreds of people in the community for many weeks. It greatly supplements the exceedingly high cost of regular groceries in the arctic.

Photo courtesy of

There are five tags given out to Nunavut yearly for harvests. Five tags for twenty-seven communities. Communities that have no roads between them. Communities that can be hundreds of kilometers apart. Needless to say, it is not every year that your community is lucky enough to get a tag to go out and hunt one of these majestic creatures.

Standing 10 feet tall out of the barren tundra, even a bone white skull on white snow stand out to you.

Months of planning go into the hunt. Once they catch the animal it can take all day to kill it and drag it back home for harvest. They harpoon it several times and finally kill it with a grenade? This article has mention of a grenade to finish the Whale off. Not sure what that's about. The animal is then dragged back to shore and butchered by dozens of people from the community and handed out right there. Huge slabs of blubber known as maqtaq are taken home and eaten over the next few weeks. The baleen (teeth) of the whale and many of the animals bones are also used in traditional Inuit carvings. Nothing goes to waste.

The back of the whales skull.

“It really has big meaning to the community, it brings people closer together, builds a stronger community and traditional values. I feel privileged to feel part of that.” - Juuta Sarpinak, 41, one of those hunters, said
Imagine going after a bowhead whale in a boat like this.

All photographs were taken by myself, @lacking unless otherwise stated. Some information courtesy of the following sites;

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