Every spring Inupiaq hunters camp on the sea ice north of the Arctic Circle, in hopes of capturing a bowhead whale to share with their village. But as global warming accelerates ice melt, it threatens the tribe’s 4,000-year-old tradition. National Geographic photographer Kiliii Yuyan recounts the five years he spent documenting these whale hunters, including one harrowing experience when the sea ice groaned—and then collapsed underneath them.
For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.
Learn more about bowhead whales and hear their recordings of their wild sounds.
And take a look at our in-depth coverage on the challenges facing polar bears in the Arctic.
To see Kiliii’s stunning photography and short film about the Inupiaq people and their whale hunting traditions, Nat Geo subscribers can check them out in an online story, titled “Meet the Bowhead Whale Hunters of Northern Alaska.”
You can also follow Kiliii on Instagram where you can see amazing portraits he’s taken of native people, wildlife and kayaks that he built himself.
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