The Whale Hunt Project

In the department of amazing photojournalism projects we have The Whale Hunt by Jonathan Harris.


The Whale Hunt is an experiment in human storytelling.

In May 2007, I spent nine days living with a family of Inupiat Eskimos in Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost settlement in the United States. The first several days were spent in the village of Barrow, exploring ramshackle structures, buying gear, and otherwise helping the whaling crew to prepare for the hunt. We then traveled by snowmobile out onto the frozen Arctic Ocean, where we camped three miles from shore on thick pack ice, pitching our tents about ten feet from the open water. Boats were readied, harpoons prepared, whaling guns loaded, white tunics donned, a snow fence constructed, and then we sat silently in the -22F air, in constant daylight, waiting for whales to appear.

A thousand-year-old tradition, the Inupiat whale hunt provides the community’s annual food supply, currently limited by international law to 22 whales a year. Each spring as the ocean thaws, ice breaks away from the mainland as a single massive chunk, which then floats out to sea, creating a canal of open water called the “lead”. It is through this lead that Bowhead whales migrate north to the Arctic Circle, where they spend summers, surfacing for air every 30-45 minutes en route. We saw hundreds of whales on the horizon, but most were too far away to attack. Finally on the fourth day…” (read more here)

But its not only the story and the photos are interesting. Check out the presentation style on the website. It has real unique interface. Harris had to come up with a solution for displaying his 3,214 photographs online. He created a mosaic that allows the viewer to pick a point in the photographic timeline. You can go right to the timeline itself for the pictures and jump around (see screenshot above) and he also has a pinwheel applet. The site is very interesting and well put together. I highly recommend surfing around and exploring!