Two injured in high-speed narwhal chase

Victims sustained minor injuries but survival suits kept them afloat and warm


Survival suits may have saved the day when two men in an aluminum skiff inadvertently got in the way of a high-speed narwhal chase near Repulse Bay on Aug. 14.

The 16-foot skiff was run over by a 22-foot fiberglass Lake Winnipeg boat as it raced towards a narwhal in Naujaat Inlet, just east of Repulse.

“When the narwhal surfaced, the Winnipeg boat immediately accelerated towards it,” Cpl. Shayne Courtorielle told Nunatsiaq News.

The driver assumed the other boat was doing the same, he said, but the occupants of the skiff had not seen the narwhal break the surface, and so hadn’t initiated their own pursuit.

The Winnipeg boat driver couldn’t see over his boat’s high prow for a brief moment, raised even higher by the gunning of the engine.

The collision threw the two occupants of the aluminum skiff into the water. But their survival suits kept them afloat and warm until rescuers were able to pull them from the water.

The accident victims were taken to the health centre for treatment of minor bumps and bruises. One man was transported to a southern hospital as a precautionary measure.

The narwhal hunt was in full swing, Courtorielle said, and there may have been 20 to 25 boats on the water.

He said alcohol was not a factor in the incident, and no charges were being considered.

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