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Being There: Scientists Enlist Inuit for Long-Term Observations of Arctic Wildlife [Slide Show]

Hunters and elders spend decades next to narwhals, whales, seals and other animals and provide important traditional knowledge that yields ecological insights in the fast-changing Arctic
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HUNTING:

A group of Inuit hunters walk to their summer camp at Tremblay Sound, North Baffin Island in Nunavut, where they will spend time hunting narwhals.....[ More ]

BIG ONE:

In Pond Inlet James Simonee proudly shows the tusk of a narwhal he recently caught. Simonee, who sells the tusks from the animals he hunts, had never caught a narwhal with such a long tusk before—2.5 meters.....[ More ]

DOUBLE TUSK:

In Pond Inlet the double tusk of a narwhal. Double-tusked narwhals are most commonly males although females can also have them. They are rare, and it is estimated that approximately 1.5 percent of narwhal are double tusked.....[ More ]

ARMED:

James Simonee (left) and Jack Orr, expedition lead, use guns to scare away a polar bear that came too close to the research camp.....[ More ]

BLUBBER:

Inuit hunter James Simonee eats muktuk, the vitamin-rich outer layer of narwhal skin and blubber.....[ More ]

DATA:

The Inuit are an integral part of narwhal research tagging expeditions in Nunavut. After the narwhal has been released, Sandie Black (left), head of veterinary services at the Calgary Zoo, goes over data recorded during the tagging process with Natasha Mablick and Syzula Ikkidluak.....[ More ]

MOLTING:

The narwhal's molting skin is softer in texture than its typical skin, and the animal shows premolting signs over most of its body (close-up of narwhal molting).....[ More ]

RELEASE:

The research team is getting ready to release a narwhal after attaching the satellite tag and taking other measurements. This is a critical moment, and the team needs to be in control. The narwhal is anxious to go and will try to roll and swim away upside down, which can damage the tag in shallow water.....[ More ]

TUSK:

Martin Nweeia (right) exposes the tusk of a male narwhal to salt- and freshwater, and monitors changes in heart rate.....[ More ]

STRESS-FREE?:

Once a narwhal is captured it takes several experienced and focused people to take blood samples and other measurements as well as attach the satellite tags. The process must be fast to minimize stress to the narwhal.....[ More ]

SAMPLING:

Researcher takes sample of air expelled from the narwhal's blowhole.....[ More ]

TRACKING:

Jack Orr and his research team remove the excess attachment cables after looping and swaging them around the pins used to attach the satellite transmitter tag through the dorsal ridge of a narwhal in the North Baffin Island region.....[ More ]

NARWHAL:

The narwhal is famous for its spiraled tusk that can extend two to three meters. The tusk is mostly an attribute of males, although some females may exhibit one as well. The function of this unusual tooth has sparked scientists' curiosity, and it is now believed that the tusk has significant sensory capabilities and may contain up to 10 million nerve endings.....[ More ]

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