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In Arctic Alaska, Barrow whaling crews still waiting for open water

  • Author: Arctic staff
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published May 30, 2013

May has come to a close, and crews from Alaska's largest whaling community have yet to find safe enough conditions to make their first spring strike. A lack of open water and persistent winds have kept crews in Barrow coast-bound for several weeks of what is typically active hunting time for bowhead whales.

"They're at their safe camps waiting for the weather to break," said Eugene Brower, president of the Barrow Whaling Captain's Association.

"Yes, we're starting to get worried," Brower said. "Everyone's worried. It's totally different this year."

While crews based out of communities farther west on the North Slope have had some success this spring season, crews in the farther north regions continue to wait for weather and ice conditions to break.

It's a tedious wait, Brower said, but crews are still waiting diligently in their safe camps, hoping conditions open enough to still allow a successful spring hunt.

Conditions in Barrow have been windy and rainy, with a forecast of the mid- to high 30s for the coming week, accompanied by winds dying down to 5 mph at the end of the week. Those winds are supposed to pick back up over the weekend, reaching 10 to 15 mph.

Weekend weather calls for partly cloudy with mixed rain and sun.