An orca whale, better known as the killer whale, was harvested in Pond Inlet on Oct. 10. The hunt recieved a lot of attention on social media and although Inuit are used to hunting whales, not all communities target orcas.
“I thought these wern’t supposed to be hunted?” comments Beverly Kingmiaqtuq.
The species is considered as one of the smartest whales in the sea and is both respected and feared by hunters.
“Future boaters in the area must be careful now. They remember people and heartbreaks that they feel. They will attack next time, flipping boats,” commented Alayna Beaulieu on the trend.
Plenty of other Facebook users were also worried future hunters would get attacked by the killer whales.
One hunter from Pangnirtung, Leo Francois Maktar, had a different opinion:
“In the past Pangnirtung hunters harvested more than one killer whales, there hasn’t been boat flipping in the next years.”
Some Northern hunters consider the animal as a nuisance, as the species is a predator to a lot of animals they hunt. Catherina Qirngnuq posted as such:
“Quit trying to scare the hunters! The orcas are killing our bowhead whales and narwhals up here and our ringed seals which we eat daily.”
The killer whales are known to hunt even when they are not hungry, which can seriously lower populations of other species of whales in certain areas.
“Killer whales kill for fun, when they are full,” said Maktar. “Every year hunters find dead narwhals that killer whales killed.”
Locals who tasted the animals explain the taste is similar to other whales they hunt.
“It tastes kind of like narwhal maktaaq but the blubber is tougher,” described Sam Inootik.
But amid all of the excitement about the harvest, there came a warning from the Department of Health on Oct. 12. Tests performed on the animal found it contained trichinella. In a press release, the department warned that anyone who ate uncooked meat from the whale may have become infected with trichinosis.
The release stated that freezing or fermenting meat won’t get rid of trichinella — it must be cooked in order to kill the bacteria.
The symptoms of trichinosis include stomach pain, muscle pain, diarrhea, swollen eyelids, sweating or weakness. If you’ve experienced any of this after eating the meat, the department is urging you to talk to a health care provider.