Utqiagvik celebrates whaling season, mourns whaling deaths

Utqiagvik-Land of the midnight sun. Lilly Kilpsuk-July 2017
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UTQIAGVIK, Alaska (AP) - People are celebrating the end of a successful fall whaling season in the nation's northernmost town, but they're also mourning the recent deaths of two whale hunters.

Alaska's Energy Desk reports the season wrapped up in Utqiagvik (ook-GAR'-vik) in late October. Subsistence hunters in the town formerly known as Barrow brought in their full quota of 19 bowhead whales.

The last whale was brought ashore by whaling captain Ross Wilhelm and his crew, with help from others. A few days later, Wilhelm and his wife hosted a gathering at their home to share the whale meat.

In early October, whaling Capt. Roxy Oyagak Jr. and crew member Ron Kanayurak died when their boat capsized while they were towing a bowhead home.

Their deaths are being reviewed by the Barrow Whaling Captains Association.