It’s a good bowhead hunt for Repulse Bays
Hunters get whale in less than four hours
A crew of hunters led by Marcel Mapsalak of Repulse Bay caught a 54-foot bowhead whale last week, and their community was still celebrating at press-time this week.
This was the fifth legal bowhead hunt in Nunavut since the signing of the Nunavut land claims agreement in 1993.
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. helped pay for equipment used in the hunt, as well as fuel and other expenses.
The Repulse Bay hunters received their licence from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on Aug. 14, after DFO officials inspected their hunting equipment.
High winds kept them from putting out their boats until Aug. 18.
Raymond Ningeocheak, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.’s second vice president and the executive officer responsible for wildlife issues, said the Repulse Bay hunters sighted a whale about 10 miles from their community.
They made a good, clean kill, Ningeocheak said, and managed to catch their whale less than four hours after setting out. The animal was towed back to a spot about 1,000 feet from the community.
After that, it was a time for the people of Repulse Bay, along with numerous visitors, to celebrate.
“There were community visits from Igloolik and Hall Beach, Chesterfield Inlet, Rankin, and Coral Harbour,” Ningeocheak said.
He said hunters spotted lots of bowheads in the area, as well as five killer whales, which often prey on bowheads.
Ningeocheak said Repulse Bay will share meat and muktuk with communities around Nunavut, but each community HTO will have to pay the shipping costs from Repulse Bay.
The hunting of bowhead whales by Inuit, banned for decades, was made “legal” after the Nunavut land claims agreement came into effect.
An Inuit traditional knowledge study conducted by the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board showed that bowhead whales are more numerous in the eastern Arctic than once thought, helping to counter objections from animal welfare groups in southern Canada.
Here’s a list of legal bowhead hunts in Nunavut since 1993:
* 1996: Repulse Bay
* 1998: Pangnirtung
* 2000: Coral Harbour
* 2002: Igloolik/Hall Beach