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ANIMAL INVESTIGATORS, How the World's First Wildlife Forensics Lab Is Solving Crimes and Saving Endangered Species
By Laurel A. Neme, PhD
|Walrus can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes.|
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|Returning from a Walrus Hunt|
The skiff touched the rocky beach as the captain and his nephew hopped out. Water lapped at their feet as they steadied the boat so the others could get out. The buzz grew louder as four wheelers brought friends and family to the beach.
When they arrived, some grasped the sides of the boat while the others started to unload. The captain grabbed the top item, a head with ivory tusks still attached, while his nephew pulled out the next one – the kumiyaw or back of the neck, and the most tender part of the skin. Everyone helped -- someone got the coak (chest skin with attached blubber) while others unloaded the red meat (shoulder blades, ribs and ham, next to the hind flippers), organs (heart, liver and stomach, a lucky bonanza since it was filled with shellfish) and flippers and laid them out on the ice. Finished, the men dragged the empty boat above the tideline.
The following videos give you a sense of the traditional hunting culture.
Chukchi whale hunting
Inupiaq whale hunting
How big is Native Alaskan demand for traditional foods?
Overall, demand for Alaska’s traditional foods remains small. In contrast, other subsistence hunting cultures face growing demand for their traditional foods. For example, in Central Africa’s rainforest, markets for bushmeat have grown so lucrative that poachers now threaten the species’ survival. Alaska’s walrus face a parallel threat as ivory, instead of its meat, becomes more and more profitable.