North·Video

'Something to see': Pod of beluga whales near Aklavik leads to hustling hunters

Edwin Greenland says he and a friend saw at least 50 beluga whales on the Schooner Channel — an unusual spot to see them.

Edwin Greenland says he and a friend saw at least 50 beluga whales on the Schooner Channel

Edwin Greenland noticed the pod of at least 50 beluga whales while he was picking up freight for the community around 10 a.m. Wednesday morning. (Edwin Greenland)

Edwin Greenland was boating with a co-worker from Inuvik to Aklavik, N.W.T., on Wednesday morning, when they noticed something odd in the water.

"It looked like ducks taking off, and as we got closer we started to see the white whales," said Greenland.

"That was something to see."

They saw at least 50 beluga whales on the Schooner Channel — an unusual spot to see them, according to Greenland.

"That's the first I've seen them that far in the Delta … I mean there was whales a few years back in Aklavik but I'd never seen any in Schooner Channel."

Greenland and his friend posted videos of the sighting, which created quite a buzz in Aklavik.

Edwin Greenland was boating with a co-worker from Inuvik to Aklavik, N.W.T., on Wednesday morning, when he says they saw about 50 beluga whales. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

That prompted many Inuvialuit to rush to get out and harvest beluga.

Renie Arey, president of the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee, says although beluga whales have come near the community before, she thinks it's the first time a pod came this close.

"There's excitement going on," said Arey.

"I think this is a great opportunity for [hunters] to go out and get their whales."

Arey believes the whales came in because of high water levels. She said normally residents who want to harvest beluga have to travel three hours out to the coast to Shingle Point.

Hunters do not need tags to hunt beluga whales, but the hunters and trappers committee says all 10 beluga sampling kits, which it gives out each year to collect data on blubber, blood and more, were scooped up in just four hours.

Edwin Greenland on his boat heading back to Aklavik. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

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