Shattered ice threatens whalers, ruins hunt
Ice shattered off Alaska’s North Slope, this week, sending 90 whalers from Barrow out into the Arctic Ocean.
North Slope rescuers with helicopters finally managed to ferry hunters, helpers and gear back to safety in an 11-hour mission.
The incident added to what North Slope residents are calling one of the most difficult whaling seasons in recent years.
One struck bowhead under tow was caught by a dangerous current. When the carcass began hauling the whale boat, the whalers were forced to cut it loose to make it to safety. Another struck bowhead was also lost.
Only two whales have been fully butchered and distributed.
“It’s been a horrible whaling season,” Barrow resident Geoff Carroll, an Alaskan State biologist, told the Anchorage Daily News. “First the ice went out in March with open water up to the shore…. When it came back it was fractured and weak.”