Thursday, August 20, 2009

Inuit Hunters Tag Narwhal for Research

This is a picture of an...

Ooooh, alright, I'm not even going to try to pull off that bad a lie. Real Inuit hunters don't wear cowboy hats. Plus, there wouldn't be trees in the background in Greenland. That's the whole point of the skin on frame construction of true Greenland qajaq.

No, this is not an Inuit hunter, this is just me, in a qajariaq ("like a kayak", the Inuit word for our hard-shelled versions of their traditional hunting boats), in the Gulf of Mexico, trying (and utterly failing, but having a great time in the process) to slaughter some floating bit of rubbish at the 2006 edition of Sweetwater Kayaks' BCU/Greenland week*.

However, I dug up this picture partly because what I'm doing here, if done with a thousand times more skill, might look something like the techniques a certain group of hunters in Greenland who were featured on NPR yesterday morning are using to affix tracking tags to some of their local narwhals.**

You can click here to hear the story, or read the article, about the key role traditional Inuit hunting techniques are playing in a scientific study led - or should I say spearheaded? - by University of Washington-based oceanographer Kristin Laidre.

And you don't need to have ever wriggled your way into a glove-snug qajaq to enjoy it, either!

* I was about to say "late, lamented BCU/Greenland week" as the 2009 symposium was called off due to the blighted economy this year, but I see on their website that it's coming back in 2010!
**The other reason for using that picture is that I just really get a kick out of it & this is the first hint of an excuse I've had for dredging it up in ages! :D

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