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Wha­ling

The fur­ther we came north, the bet­ter the wea­ther. The stiff bree­ze eased out until the water sur­face beca­me oily, just moved by the gent­le swell, shi­ning in the evening sun. Best con­di­ti­ons to find some wha­les!

We were not the only ones in the area loo­king for wha­les, but litt­le did we know that the inten­ti­ons of the other boat that came into sight were far less peace­ful. The see­min­gly inno­cent boat Rei­ne­bru­en from Svol­vær (Lofo­ten, Nor­way) tur­ned out to be a wha­le cat­cher, with a crow’s nest and a har­poon gun on the bow, and while we were watching a young Hump­back wha­le, we heard the first shot being fired in the distance. Several more shots fol­lo­wed over the next cou­p­le of minu­tes, and we saw a smal­ler wha­le spla­shing under the bow of the wha­ler. It fought the pain of the steel har­poon in its bel­ly for 5-6 minu­tes until it died.

It is not a secret that Nor­way issu­es well bey­ond 1000 licen­ses for Min­ke wha­les to its wha­ling fleet every year, and some­ti­mes we see wha­ling ships in Nor­we­gi­an ports inclu­ding Lon­gye­ar­by­en. But see­ing a wha­ler in dead­ly action is some­thing dif­fe­rent. I had never seen that befo­re and I did not have an idea of the impres­si­on it would make on me to see how a wha­le is shot, dies and is pul­led up on deck.

The crew of the Rei­ne­bu­en tur­ned the ship several times quick­ly, obvious­ly try­ing to move the stron­gly blee­ding wha­le out of our sight. They know what the world things about this.

Final­ly they went their way and we went ours. I had a bad fee­ling in my sto­mach and weak kne­es, as if I had just beco­me wit­ness to a mur­der. Well, this was pret­ty much the case, in a wider sen­se.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Soon, two more Hump­back wha­les appeared under the mid­ni­ght sun, hap­py and ali­ve, not knowing that a slight­ly remo­ter rela­ti­ve had just died in a very bloo­dy and pain­ful way. Spi­rits on board were rising noti­ce­ab­ly. Admit­ted­ly, I was not yet up for it. The emo­tio­nal chan­ge from slaugh­ter to obser­va­ti­on of almost the same won­der­ful ani­mal was just a bit too fast for me, so I wat­ched it slight­ly mecha­ni­cal­ly, took my pho­tos and was then hap­py to finish the day.

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2015-06-01 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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