Utqiagvik sees strong start to spring whaling
It's been a bountiful spring on the ice so far for whaling crews out of Utqiaġvik. The community's first catches of the season came on April 30, when three crews landed 28-foot whales in the waters outside town. Patkotak Crew landed a 28-foot-1-inch agviq. Pamiilaq Crew's was 28 feet, 2 inches, and Ikayuaq Crew's was the largest at 28 feet, 9 inches.
Word spread quickly that the crews had been successful and people headed down to the edge of the ice to help haul them to shore. Flags went up over the captains' homes in town and VHF and social media, alike, were abuzz with excitement.
The following day, Quuniq Crew landed a 25-foot-11-inch whale, followed by Hopson 1 and Anaġi on May 2.
May 3 saw both Amaulik and Aaluk Crews have successful hunts, as did May 4, when Little Whaler brought in another 27-foot whale.
These whales are a welcome blessing, say many people in town. Fall whaling season was challenging for Utqiaġvik crews, many of whom returned home without seeing a single animal.
Now, residents are hard at work cutting and processing the meat and maktak to put into storage or hand out in shares, while others are keeping crews still on the ice well supplied with donuts, coffee and quaq.