Friday, April 17, 2015

Muktuk

One of the groups working out of the BARC (Barrow Arctic Research Center) had asked the logistics support staff about muktuk. Aka, the skin and blubber of the bowhead whale. One of the staff members brought some in so the visiting researchers can get the full Barrow experience. Here, it is still thawing out on the table in the break room. Later on, they cut in into small pieces for them to sample. I believe that it was easier to slice when partially frozen. Pretty generous of the staff to share but it is an example of their desire to share their culture with the visiting researchers. In this case, I believe it was a film crew.

One of the staff members mentioned that some time ago, a Japanese researcher was anxious to try some. After trying a taste, he verbally apologized to the whale as he didn't like the taste. I tried some in the past but didn't care for the strong fish flavor. For many, whale is an essential affordable protein source and a very important part of the culture here in Barrow.

On Thursday evening, I put the GoPro on the passenger window of the truck when I drove to town. I wasn't too sure how well it was going to work looking sideways but id wasn't too bad. Maybe i should've used the rear passenger window to avoid the side view mirror. In many places the snow berms are so high that you can't really get a good view of the sea ice. The video was kind of disappointing as it looked pretty good "in person". Too much of the texture and shadow detail is lost with the super wide angle lens of the GoPro. Some of the titles are messed up as well but I don't really want to upload another copy to YouTube. It took quite a while given the modest bandwidth available. I went ahead and uploaded the fixed version. It took about an hour, not too bad. Most of the video was at double speed as the speed limit in town is 20 mph.

The sun seems incredibly bright especially with the snow. Sunset was at 10:50pm. On May 12th, the sun will be above the horizon all day.




11 comments:

Canajun said...

Never tried Muktuk but I do understand it's an acquired taste. I'm not a big fan of fishy-tasting food so I expect I probably wouldn't be too keen. Still, I'd give it a try - anything once.

RichardM said...

I've tried it a couple of times over the years and I would have to agree with your statement that it's an acquired taste. I'm willing to try just about any kind of food as well. At least once…

David Masse said...

I'd probably try the Muktuk as well. The strangest thing I tried was jellyfish in San Francisco.

Liked the video. We are so spoiled. So soft. Muktuk and endless snow.

Conchscooter said...

My toes curled as I watched the meringue-like snow roll by and then curled even more as I thought about living there in the darkness of winter. I started whimpering when I figured this is your good bye video and you will miss the place in retirement. What a place.

SonjaM said...

Sometimes I am glad for having the excuse to be vegan ;-) Although, I have had snake and jellyfish, once. Didn't like it.

Trobairitz said...

Thanks for the video. It is still hard to me to wrap my head around how large Barrow seems to be. I always thought of it as a tiny arctic outpost but I think it is larger that the village I grew up in.

Trobairitz said...

I tried alligator once years ago. Wasn't that bad. But chewy.

RichardM said...

I don't think I've ever tried jellyfish. Doesn't seem like there would be very much there...

Endless snow, in a couple of months most of it will be melted though the ice may still be onshore.

RichardM said...

You could adapt here just like anyplace else. I've felt colder on a boat in the Pacific than I've ever felt in Barrow. It's a dry cold".

I suspect that this isn't the last time in Barrow.

RichardM said...

Had alligator a couple of times, ironically, both times I was in Alaska. Tastes like chicken...

Rattlesnake was pretty tasty. I tried that almost 40 years ago in Texas. But then again, tastes change...

RichardM said...

Barrow is pretty large both in population as well as area. I think the population is around 4,000, ranked #13 in Alaska. Pretty large for somewhere so far off the beaten path.