Saturday, July 30, 2005

More Beluga Whale News On CBC

I saw another news story centred around beluga whales last night. This time, it was on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) evening news on television. The town called Churchill in northern Manitoba is known as the polar bear capital of the world because every fall, polar bears migrate through the town. This brings tourists from all around the world to see them. Since Churchill is right on Hudson's Bay, the area also attracts the largest population of beluga whales every summer. This has created another tourist attraction with the creation of whale watching outfits that bring tourists out on the lake with boats. However, this has also attracted Inuit hunters who have come to shoot the beluga whales as game. Therefore, there is a battle going on between the tour operators and the Inuit hunters. Beluga whales are naturally curious and social, usually crowding around boats. The tour operators claim that since the arrival of the Inuit hunters, they have been scaring away some of the beluga whales. The tour operators acknowledge the Inuit hunters' rights to hunt beluga but wish that they would move their hunting elsewhere. One Inuit hunter interviewed on television thinks there should be more communication between the groups. He doesn't want to hurt the operators' industry but at the same time, he wants the hunters to retain the right to provide their people with country food which includes beluga whale. As a non-Inuit, it is still hard for me to see beluga whales being killed especially now that they are featured at such marine parks as Marineland in Niagara Falls. However, I also respect the culture and rights of the Inuit.

To see some beautiful artistic representations of beluga whales by the Inuit, see Inuit Carvings of Beluga Whales.

beluga whale inuit carving

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