The Beluga Whale (Delphinapterus leucas) is an important species to the coastal Inuvialuit communities of the Western NWT. Despite the ongoing local cultural and nutritional importance of beluga whale, and ongoing scientific monitoring in the region, little research has examined local and traditional understandings of beluga. The dearth of knowledge is made more poignant by the rapid climatic and nonclimatic changes that are occurring in the region. As key stakeholders in the outcomes of beluga management, Inuvialuit have indicated their desire to document their TEK of beluga. The ongoing research documented TEK about the ecology and behaviour of the beluga whale, hunting techniques, and subsistence preparation under changing climatic and non-climatic conditions through a case study in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region from June to August 2016. Ethnographic research methods were utilized for data gathering activities, including semi-directed interviews and participant observation. Three objectives will be addressed through the research, including: (1) characterizing the local Inuvialuit relationship with beluga, including ecological knowledge of the species, hunting techniques, and subsistence preparation (2) documenting change and stressors affecting Inuvialuit/beluga relationships, and (3) identifying challenges and opportunities for inclusion of TEK in beluga co-management regimes. This research is part of ArcticNet Project 1.8 “Knowledge Co-Production for the Identification and Selection of Ecological, Social, and Economic Indicators for the Beaufort Sea”.
12th ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM2016), Winnipeg, United States 5-9 December 2016
12th ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting Program Booklet / pp.211