Saturday, November 3, 2012

Barrow Whale Landing

A flag flying means that crew got a whale (each crew has their own distinct flag). In the spring many of the crews use traditional boats with bearded seal skins sewn together with the tendons of caribou.

The whale is ready to be pulled up on the beach to be harvested.

In the fall they use a loader to pull the whale up on the beach. During the spring hunt because of the ice they use block and tackle.
Town shows up when the whale is brought in - for a celebration and to help harvest.

Baleen - part of the whales mouth.

Harvesting the whale into 1 foot wide strips - this will be shared with the entire town.

With all the help it usually takes about three hours to butcher the whale.

A whale weighs (on average) one ton per foot.

Tension is put on the muktuk (the skin and the blubber) while another person continues to cut so that hardly any of it is wasted. The whale meat is under neath the muktuk.
None of the whale is wasted - every bit is either eaten or used in other ways.

An average whale will feed about 20 families per year. Barrow got 28 whales this year - there are 5,000 people that live here. They will also share with people from the villages and other visitors.

About 50 baleen strips (2 ft long) per whale - this is split up between the crew that lands the whale and whoever helps tow the whale in.

This is on a harpoon - shot into the whale - once the harpoon hits this follows and then a few seconds later it explodes with black powder. They try to hit the whale near the heart or brain.
A local artist finishing a piece of art work for me from baleen.

I had never seen baleen this thick - it was explained to me that the older/bigger the whale is the thicker the baleen is.

Thank You to Bobby Nageak & Bob Brouillette!
He is a local who helped me write  all of the captions.

Also thanks to Cliff Gragg for taking all the pictures!

I highly recommend watching a National Geographic production called "Inside the Whale Hunters"


Road Trip!

We had our RV stored in Philadelphia the previous month - and we needed to get to Arizona in a short period of time - so we didn't stop much but when we did we enjoyed the scenery.
We are very thankful that we weren't on the east coast when Sandy hit and our prayers go out to all of those who have been affected.

Beautiful fall colors...

St. Louis, Missouri!

From the Arch...
Some baseball team was playing... :)

Some views of the Arch...

Michael & Katie in Alaska

Flying from Barrow to Anchorage - Beautiful Day!

Nanna & Sydney playing on the iPad

First snow of the season - Sydney went out in her PJ's!

Michael & Katie enjoying the hot tub in the snow

Michael and Katie became engaged right before their trip to Alaska - so we took a lot of engagement pictures

Michael's about as much of a ham as his father is...

I don't think she volunteered to kiss these guys!

Katie, Sydney and Brian at the zoo

A beautiful fall day!

A momma and baby moose had just crossed the road and then this big guy came out of the woods after them.

This critter was so curious about potter flats.

Dulce & Sean

We got to spend a few hours with the grandbabies in Seattle!

Monday, August 20, 2012

A tour of Barrow

The Coast Guards boat on wheels.

Arctos in the water - they had one of these out at ENI but we had only seen one on the ice

Barrow's infamous blue football field

Part of the NARL (Naval Arctic Research Labratory) camp - it's now part of the community college

Bones from a Bowhead Whale

It was about 55 degrees - warm enough for the local kids to play in the Arctic Ocean

This is an old underground storage area for food. I was told that every summer the kids were told that they had to clean them out - and if they didn't the fall whale hunt wouldn't go well because the whale would know and not be willing to die for the town.

This building is from the original white whalers who came to town in the late 1800's

Jim was explaining how they stretch animal skins over these boats each year before they go out whaling

The Nordica waiting for crew change