Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rope Dragging & Nalukataq

Rope Dragging Crew: L to R - Stephen Yezerinac, Ethan Kistler,
Charlie Governali and Fabrice Chevreux.

We finished rope dragging yesterday, discovering a lot of new nests. It was exhausting but rewarding at the same time. I think we had about 50 new nests in those 4 days. Today we returned to our normal schedule of plot searching. Even after rope dragging, we are still finding new nests.

Last Sunday was our day off so a few of us went to the second Nalukataq (Whale Festival) of the year. The Inupiaq Eskimos celebrate their successful whale hunts and during these gatherings they pass out the whale meat, dance, sing, tell stories and have a blanket toss. The blanket is made of several Bearded Seal skins sewn together. Locals gather around and toss people up in the air similar to a trampoline. Here are a few pictures from the festival.

Distributing the whale

Nalukataq Blanket for the Blanket Toss

Hunting boat

Fraction of 850 Long-tailed Ducks


Deanna Campbell said...

Hey Ethan! So how much whale meat did you eat? No pictures of you being tossed up in the air?? Nice light on the long-tail flock.
I went out the next morning and found a male Spectacled on the same pond as the Steller's, so I finally saw one sitting still! Very nice. There was also a male Common on the sea in town.
I saw all of my target birds in Alaska - Smith's Longspur and Arctic Warbler in Paxson, and Surfbird and Kittlitz's Murrelet in Homer. Add in two great new mammals - Polar Bear and Sea Otters - the Mommies had big fuzzy babies riding on their bellies - and it was an amazing five days!!! It was great to bird with you and thanks again for showing us the Rock Ptarmigan. I had a family of Willows in Paxson with four newish chicks. Good luck with the rest of the summer. Cheers, Deanna

Weedpicker Cheryl said...

A wonderful post! Thank you for allowing to visit this remote but pituresque corner of the world through your photos.