By Kirsten Massebeau
Much like Taiji, Japan each year Intuit hunters are issued permits to hunt narwhal, a cousin to the dolphin who has a tusk. Today science has proven how highly intelligent, and social whales and dolphins are. Families stay together for a lifetime, and mothers nurse their babies for approximately the same amount of time as human children. The narwhal tusk is highly sensitive, a tower of nerve endings that sets them apart from all other whales and dolphins.
Today the Narwhals are only hunted by the Inuit. The video seen here is of Intuit hunters preparing to spear a narwhal:
As I watched this video of Intuit hunters in their high-powered 75 horse Honda outboard and other modern conveniences, it struck me that the subsistence aspect had to be questioned. It seems unfair that these animals are being hunted with technologies giving the hunters an unfair advantage over the narwhal whales. (Ed Johnson)
You can see their much coveted tusks sold in shops and exported here.
In a recent Narwhal hunt reported in CBC News North the Intuits describe seeing a pod of Narwhal and then running to get their tags.
This year, the hamlet applied for hunting tags and got five, which quickly ran out. Neighboring communities chipped in their tags.
“Gjoa Haven kindly stepped up because they didn’t have any whales as of yet, and gave us five to use here,” said Panioyak.
Narwhals will be eaten the same as beluga – the hunters will cut up the blubber and the meat and share it in the community. (Read the whole article here)
The use of the word “tradition” as an excuse for killing whales and dolphins has become obsolete especially in the case of the narwhal:
Inuit hunters in the eastern Canadian Arctic kill about 500 narwhals and sell about 120 tusks overseas each year. Tusks can sell for more than $1,000 each.(source)
The only time I saw narwhal hunters in Canada, I heard at least nine gunshots and later saw the remains of one narwhal on shore, its tusk removed and very little edible flesh was taken. The hunters reported that they had killed one more narwhal but the whale sunk before they could retrieve it.(source)
There was a ban on Narwhal hunting because of overseas sale of the tusks. The ban was overturned. You can read about the ban here
The Narwhals are also threatened by global warming a very serious problem as seen in this recent video. Which is yet another reason to let these amazing beings live in peace.