North·Photos

Naujaat celebrates bowhead whale harvest

Despite windy conditions, the 16-metre whale was hunted within two hours of the sighting.

Despite windy conditions, 16-metre whale was hunted within 2 hours of sighting

A hunt can take months of planning and does not always work out. Naujaat had a licence last year but did not successfully harvest a whale. (Submitted by Dolly Mablik)

The community of Naujaat, Nunavut, caught a bowhead whale over the weekend.

Despite windy conditions, the 16-metre whale was hunted within two hours after it was first sighted on Saturday.

The hunters putting in a Herculean effort. (Submitted by Dolly Mablik)

Michel Akkuardjuk was the captain during the hunt, and said the community is overjoyed.

"We were welcomed by so many, I was really humbled and felt joy," he said.

"I received many handshakes and that really stood out for me."

Akkuardjuk says it shouldn't take too long to butcher the whale.

'I received many handshakes and that really stood out for me,' said Michel Akkuardjuk. (Submitted by Dolly Mablik)
 

The regional wildlife organizations select the communities that will take part in the annual hunt. 

Whale numbers began to rebound in the mid-1990s, and a licence system was put into effect, with a small handful of communities given the chance to harvest a whale each year.

A hunt can take months of planning and does not always work out. Naujaat had a licence last year but did not successfully harvest a whale.

The whale hunt is a traditional part of Inuit culture, and a successful hunt can feed hundreds. (Submitted by Dolly Mablik)
 

The hunt is monitored with the assistance of co-management partners, including the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the local hunters and trappers organizations.

Iqaluit celebrated the harvesting of a bowhead whale earlier this month. It was only the city's second catch of a bowhead in a century.

The whale hunt is a traditional part of Inuit culture, and a successful hunt can feed hundreds. 

Naujaat, on the shores of Hudson Bay, has a population of about 1,080.

With files from Pauline Pemik, Mike Salomonie

Akkuardjuk says the work to butcher the whale shouldn't take too long. (Submitted by Dolly Mablik)