August 24 – Following an event-rich day yesterday, our well-earned sleep was over by 06.00 am this morning when two narwhals were caught in a net across the fjord. We all hurried out of the tents and straight into our survival suits – it was about time to get up anyway. We went straight down to Inuuta’s boat, loaded up, and then sped towards the narwhals.
The two whales had swum into a net placed right in front of a small secondary camp, where the two experienced hunters Hjelmer and Åge (respectively Inuuta’s brother and son) are based in order to be closer to their nets and able to respond quickly when a whale is caught. Their camp is well located on a hillside with an exceptional view of the fjord. It is also at a key location for catching narwhals, according to our records from past years. Hjelmer and Åge’s strategic location had paid out as they had quickly reached the whales, keeping them safe and calm.
Upon arrival we confirmed that the whales were relaxed as a result of good and efficient handling after capture. The two narwhals are a male and a female, both of medium size. Each whale was tagged with an Acousonde and a satellite transmitter. We worked like a team of speedway mechanics: it took only 9 minutes to tag each whale and the whole operation from when we were woken up until the whales’ release took less than one hour. This is a timeframe we are proud of, as the whales both swam away at full speed as soon as we took our hands off them.
After releasing the last whale we joke a bit with the hunters about the breakfast options in their camp, but unfortunately they were out of eggs and bacon so we pack up and head home to Hjørnedal. We got back in camp at 07:15, a perfect time for a much-needed coffee. Now the sun is rising high behind the mountains, heating up the morning air and there is a cheerful mood in camp after the successful tagging. It is a perfect start of the day.