2001 Photo Contest, Nature, 1st prize

Bo Thomassen

01 January, 2000

A traditional whaler harpoons a sperm whale in waters off the village. The men hunt using wooden boats and hand-held harpoons. They put their entire weight behind the harpoon, jumping on to the whale's back to spear it. This does not kill the whale. Instead, a number of boats harpoon the animal, and it swims around dragging the boats behind it until it is tired out. Then the men pull it alongside and kill it with knives. Whaling is not only a means of subsistence, but is part of the local belief and ceremonial system. The villagers are exempt from the international ban on whaling under clause that allows similar aboriginal communities to follow traditional practices.

About the photographer

Bo Thomassen

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