LIFE ABOVE The Arctic CIRCLE
In my travels of the Arctic, I have been lucky to have spent time with people who have called this frozen wilderness home for many generations over many centuries and I have always been blown away by their kindness and generosity. The Arctic culture runs deep and the connection between humans and nature up here is about as close as it can get.
Since very little grows in these latitudes, the traditional Arctic diet consists largely of meat and fish so hunting and fishing are central to culture up here. Respect is given to all the beautiful creatures of the Arctic and most locals possess a deep understanding of animal behaviour and migration patterns. Life in these Arctic communities lives by the seasons and each month has a different animal species to hunt or fish to catch and this dictates daily life for many people up here.
Amaktakluk, a hunter shows me a necklace he carved from a single Walrus Tusk. He will hunt for Walrus by dragging his boat over pack ice, but he has noticed less walrus in his area of Teller, Alaska in recent years. He believes the ice that forms is now much more thin than it was before and too weak to support the weight of many walrus which can weigh up to 1.5 tons.
During the Salmon run communities will fish for salmon, drying and smoking their catch to be stockpiled and eaten throughout the year. Many Arctic communities rely on a good salmon run for their very survival.
These Kaktovikmiut sisters pose in their hunting camp shelter near Kaktovic in the Alaskan arctic. They come here with their husbands for weeks at a time to hunt, fish, take part in cultural activities and connect with the land. I was lucky to spend a few weeks in their area and would aim to spend some time with them most days as they fished and dried their catch. While they will eat a lot of their catch, they always aim to bring enough back to their community to share around. This is the way it has been up here for thousands of years.
The fish of choice for these sisters is the Arctic Char and after tasting a few myself cooked over the fire, I can agree it is possibly one of the tastiest fish on the planet.
All those little black dots buzzing around my head are mosquitos! I have never seen so many of these little blood-suckers in my life. Last thing you would expect in the Arctic are mosquitos but I can assure you, they are probably one of the most uncomfortable parts about going to land here in the summer. We had to take a gun to shore every time we stepped foot on land due to the threat of Polar bears. I would never in my life ever want to shoot a bear, but needed to have a loud enough bang to deter them if they decided to get a little too friendly... though I would have gladly shot every one of those little mosquitos if I could!