Captured

Alaska's big catch

In the state's northernmost tip, whale hunting is a community affair

"Hey, hey, hey!"

The call comes through a crackling radio and it's a siren to the residents of Barrow, Alaska, a city located above the Arctic Circle at the northernmost tip of the state. The call means only one thing — fishermen have caught a bowhead whale and it's time for residents to gather by the shore.

Barrow is home to the Inupiat, one of Alaska's native communities, who rely heavily on the annual fall whaling season, The Associated Press writes. Skin and blubber from a bowhead whale — one of the world's largest mammals — can keep a family fed much more effectively than the overpriced grocery stores that fly in food and mark up the cost accordingly.

And so down to the shore the Inupiats go, along with officials who inspect the legality of the catch. Once they get the OK, everyone pitches in on the arduous and grisly job of butchering the massive whale. Using knives and hooks, the residents divide up the catch, a gift from the nearby Chukchi Sea. Below, a look at this 1,000-year-old hunting tradition, very much alive and celebrated in the great white North.

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