The fall whaling season in Utqiagvik didn’t happen last year — veteran whalers said they had never gone that long without seeing a bowhead whale near Point Barrow during that time.
The case shows how it’s become common for polar bears to disrupt village life in Kaktovik, which sits on an island at the edge of the Beaufort Sea. As climate change melts sea ice and drives the bears ashore, residents say they’ve been under increasing stress.
Some residents say this is unprecedented — the whale-dependent village captured nearly 20 whales last fall. Also unprecedented are this year’s temperatures: It was the warmest May-through-September on record in Utqiaġvik.
Asking around about Marie Adams Carroll in Utqiaġvik, it’s clear that the things she’s done on the North Slope will be remembered long after she retires.
In public comments made available on a federal site, most North Slope institutions didn’t express outright opposition to the plan. But they did voice concern for subsistence resources and hunters’ continued access to them.
The chairman for the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission says the group will work with the United States and other International Whaling Commission countries to try to preserve Japan’s membership in the organization.
“I had hoped to see that happen during my lifeterm,” said Eugene Brower, former president of the Barrow Whaling Captains Association of the rule change. “I’m happy that we don’t have to beg anymore.”
The International Whaling Commission voted to change the way that subsistence hunt quotas are set.
Families and community members on St. Lawrence Island will be eating bowhead whale this week after a local hunter caught Gambell’s second whale of the season Monday night.
Despite the lingering effects of winter, spring whaling has begun in Arctic Alaska and seal hunters are also heading to the coast from Chevak in the Southwest part of the state.