Subsistence Whaling Cultures

subsistance whaling
Caption: Edward Sheriff Curtis, The Captured Whale, c. 1915.

Geography, environment and habitat have all contributed to the growth of cultures that hunt whales for food, bones and oil for survival in regions where agriculture is difficult or impossible. Whaling is an ancient subsistence strategy still practiced in places like Arctic, the Siberian tundras, the mountainous Northwestern Coast of North America, Bequia in the West Indies, the Faroe Islands and Lamalera in the Philippines Hunting traditions in these regions provide food to the community and help groups maintain their identities through traditional subsistence patterns.

In subsistence whaling cultures ceremonial rituals are observed that ensure the communal relationship with the hunted animals. Subsistence whaling cultures have strong spiritual ties to whales and whales figure prominently in their creation stories and their folklore.