Alaskan Inupiat hunters got a surprise when they started butchering a bowhead whale they had just harvested.
A whaling crew in Kaktovic, Alaska, had finished celebrating the season’s first bowhead whale when crewman Sheldon Brower, who started the butchering process, came up with a big surprise.
As soon as Brower began cutting, he hit metal.
In the tail of the animal, they found a ‘bomb’ projectile weapon, the type of which was only used decades ago by commercial whalers.
The weapon they found in the tail was in pieces, but other fragments were collected from the animal’s body.
Flora Rexford, a teacher from the eastern North Slope village, said “They had just celebrated, standing on the whale. Then they washed the whale. Then he started cutting and he hit metal.”
Once the butchering process began again, they discovered strange looking growths in the whale’s body tissue.
“It had a lot of strange things in it that we hadn’t seen before. The meat had a bad smell, especially around the tail section where the projectile was found,” Rexford said.
With that in mind the whale will now be analyzed by experts, and the meat will not be eaten.
This has occurred before when in 2007, a crew from Barrow harvested a whale containing a projectile that was carrying a patent date of 1879.
Bowhead whales mature when they are 20 years old, and are known to live to 100, but the animal’s full lifespan is unknown.
One last interesting tidbit about this whale’s harvest, according to Rexford: “It was struck by the village’s first female harpooner”