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Image: Peter Flood

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Whale escapes harpoon attack only to be slaughtered years later

Alaskan Inupiat hunters made an unexpected discovery after killing the first bowhead whale of their hunt season.

The 42 foot whale, who was brought onto the beach near Kaktovik, was found to have parts of an old explosive harpoon embedded in the tail area.

The fragments are thought to have come from the type of hunting weapon used decades ago by commercial hunters. According to local reports, the meat gave off a bad smell, especially around the tail section, and so would not be eaten.

It is not the first time that pieces of old hunting weapons have been found in slaughtered bowhead whales in the region. This sad discovery highlights the severe welfare problems that surround both commercial and aboriginal subsistence whale hunting (hunting for local and cultural needs rather than for profit). There is no humane way to kill a whale at sea and many that are not caught are left badly injured or die in agony later.

Read more on this subject here