Sunday, November 23, 2008
Algore lies, narwhals die
Over 200 whales trapped in Canadian ice.
At least 200 narwhal whales in Canada's Arctic, trapped by winter ice and facing starvation or suffocation, must be culled, officials say.
Hunters from the village of Pond Inlet on Baffin Island discovered the animals trapped near Bylot Island, about 17 kilometres from Pond Inlet, on November 15.
The local hunters are allowed to harvest only 130 whales each year for food, according to standards set by the federal department of Fisheries and Oceans.
But department spokesman Keith Pelley said: "It's unlikely the animals are going to survive the winter, so the hunters have been given authorisation to cull them."
The hunters have been on the ice slaughtering the whales since Thursday and are likely to accomplish their task over the coming days, he said.
Narwhal are found mostly in the Arctic circle, and are renowned for their extraordinarily long tusk, which is actually a twisted incisor tooth that projects from the left side of its upper jaw and can be up to three metres long.
"A couple of weeks ago, when the ice was still moving, there were quite a few narwhal seen out there in the open water," Jayko Allooloo, chairman of the Pond Inlet hunters and trappers organisation, told public broadcaster CBC.
"About a week later, they're stuck."
Community elders and officials feared the whales would die from a lack of oxygen as the ice grew thicker around them, Pelley explained.
There are about a dozen areas of open waters where they could come up for air, but it is a tight squeeze for them.