Taloyoak, Nunavut, hunters set out on bowhead whale hunt

Hunters from Taloyoak will travel 35 kilometres overland to reach the Gulf of Boothia for the community's first bowhead whale hunt in living memory.
Community members in Arctic Bay, Nunavut, help cut meat and muktuk from the bowhead whale harvested during their recent hunt. (Jobie Attitaq)

After weeks of preparation, hunters in Taloyoak, Nunavut, plan to set off this weekend in search of a bowhead whale.

It will be the first time in living memory that the community has hunted a whale.

First, the hunters will travel 35 kilometres overland to reach the Gulf of Boothia. They've already carried a lot of the supplies over, such as gas and ammunition.

Each year, three Nunavut communities are given licences to harvest one of the massive whales. Arctic Bay and Repulse Bay harvested their whales several weeks ago.

Of all the hunters leaving Taloyoak this weekend, only the captain has experience hunting bowheads.

Long a staple of Inuit culture, the Eastern Arctic bowhead became severely depleted by centuries of commercial whaling, starting in the 1500s. They first came under legal protection in the 1930s and numbers have since rebounded.

In 2009, its listing was changed from a threatened species to a species of special concern, the least serious designation under the federal Species at Risk Act.