Stranded Narwhales in Pond


26 November 2008

6821 ḵing gan

November 21, 2008

E-mail conversation between Bernadette Dean and Peter Irniq

Bernadette Dean wrote:

Don't know if you've seen & heard...

6 attached pictures of the Stranded Narwhales in Pond

Peter Irniq wrote:     

Yes, I think, they need to kill them off now and distribute the maktaaq to some communities.  As I understand it, there are about 200 of them.  That is quite a lot.  The Elder's are saying, kill them off, then they don't suffer.  Since the time I was a little boy, I have always found that Inuit are always nagligusuktut, towards the animals.


Bernadette Dean wrote:

And I heard that elder Elisapee Ootoova mentioned on radio it has been 71 years since she last heard about stranded narwhales like this.




Some of the comments posted on CBC news
"Hunters start culling narwhals trapped near Pond Inlet"

Nanuq19 wrote:

I'm from Pond Inlet, we live to hunt animals so we can have clothes that could keep us warm even with -50 degrees cetigrade outside. We hunt animals so we can eat and be healthy.

Those narwhals that are trapped won't be able to make it to the open water that are 90 kilometres away. Plus that hole was only 15 feet long and 5 feet wide, and that isn't enough for all narwhals that are trapped.

Another thing, what about the ones that are also slaughtered example, chickens (wings, fingers, breasts): pigs (bacons, t-bones, steaks): Turkey for thanksgiving: cows for beefs. The other marine animals such as crabs, lobsters, Tuna fish.

We don't hunt animals for fun like the southerners do, we hunt to keep us alive.

Posted 1901/12/13 at 9:05 PM ET

MaataKyak wrote:

I am writing from Pond Inlet, and it is heart breaking seeing narwhals being trapped out on the ice with small breathing holes, they are fighting to breath air and the baby narwhals are being crushed by adult narwhals and some are being cut with their tusks.The baby narwhals are suffering the most. What do you do when you watch these animals suffering and being helpless? When we live in a middle of nowhere, when we can't get access to some suggestions that easily. We have no bombs, no ships and no access to anything. I think the most humane way right now is killing some of them. We live in a very far north which is very cold -40, just driving there from our community you can get a frost bite on your face.

Posted 1901/12/13 at 9:05 PM ET

Kautainuk wrote:

A couple of points. Bylot Island is about 21 miles as the crow flies, more like 43 kilometres, not 17.

Narwhal flee from ships, and especially icebreakers which create a huge amount of underwater noise. The majority would drown trying to escape from the icebreaker and they would not follow it either. On top of that, the ship track would refreeze in a couple of hours.

The narwhal that are harvested now will impact next year's tags, since they are deducted from the next allocation. The population is healthy, in terms of numbers, there are approximately 25,000 narwhal in the High Arctic seas.

These animals were wild and free, until the winds died down and the ice froze over very quickly, trapping them. It can go from open water to completely ice covered in a matter of hours or even one day. Those of you who think this is easy to deal with are perfect examples of "ostriches with their heads in the sand".

Posted 1901/12/13 at 9:05 PM ET

HELLO_from_eskimo wrote:

if I heard it right on the radio, about half of that pod has been harvested - my mouth is watering at the thought of all that muktaaq (whale skin - not blubber).

many people are unaware that fermented whale fat is one of the greatest 'dips' ever to be created - dip caribou meat and/or char in it and it makes a wonderful meal!

Likewise, the same people do not fully understand the situation as they offer their solutions fuelled mainly on emotion rather than information. furthermore, what is frustrating for some is the fact that a lot of the commenters are providing their opinion from a great distance away from the reality and expect those closest to the reality act according to their say.

Inuit elders are giving advise based on countless years of accumulated knowledge and I am pleased that the situation is being handled accordingly.

just a couple cents/sense of mine


Posted 1901/12/13 at 9:05 PM ET

Higdon wrote:

Ice entrapments (or SAAVSATS - please forgive me if my Inuktitut spelling is wrong, after all I'm a Kudloona, lol) are a common occurence with narwhal, and one of their main sources of mortality. It usually happens out in the middle of Baffin Bay on the wintering grounds, where people don' see it. These whales will die, plain and simple. An icebreaker will never work, using bombs to break the ice will probably kill the whales anyways (goes to show what southerners know about whale ecology), and the whales are going to die. The best thing to do is harvest them and use the muktuk (and it isn't a cull, it's a hunt, CBC reporters have never understood the difference, just like when they use "slaughter" to talk about the seal hunt). A lot of communities (Repulse Bay, Arctic Bay) didn't fill their narwhal quota this past summer, so there is a shortage of muktuk in many communities. The NWMB and GN should ensure that some of this excellent country food gets distributed to other communities.

Posted 1901/12/13 at 9:05 PM ET

Kautainuk wrote:

Sheesh! We live at 72 degrees north for crying out loud. Winter is already here, not like 2000 miles down south. The types of suggestions prove that these people have no idea what the conditions are like.

This type of event occurs roughly every four or five years, but I have never heard of this many trapped previously. There are probably pods that die without ever being discovered.

The narwhal are absolutely trapped and have only these last remaining unfrozen patches in a 500 square mile area and the floe edge is over 50 miles away and expanding daily. Temperatures are averaging -30 to -45 daily and the sun is already just a memory until February.

These whales have nothing to eat, and are consuming their own fat and muscle at this stage. They are severely emaciated and face nothing but starvation and death.

I find it ludicrous that people would spend thousands of dollars to save a few whales, but they would never invest in the north to meet the needs of the people who live up here.

Our own fellow citizens are so ignorant about their backyard, and one commenter recently on the G/M site even had the temerity to suggest that Nunavut be sold to the US or Russia!

Nunavut is ignored until a natural event occurs, which tugs at the hearts of the misinformed.

Posted 1901/12/13
at 9:05 PM ET

See more

Ḵwaan sda: Stranded Narwhales