OSHR 1109 - Whale Tales: Science, Politics, and Tribal Traditions Lecture (PERK SERIES)

  • Noncredit
  • Fort Collins

This course is offered through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Colorado State University. You must be a member of Osher to enroll in this course.

Near the Inupiat village of Barrow, Alaska, young Perry Anashugak perches atop an upended chunk of sea ice and peers across the water using a laser theodolite to locate massive bowhead whales migrating past the traditional hunting grounds of his ancestors. Although this day he is opening the scientific survey season by counting whales to help determine the status of this endangered species, next week he will join his whaling crewmates with a handheld harpoon in a seal skin boat to hunt a whale that would help feed his family for weeks.

Before the ice breaks up in June, he may venture out again, but this time his harpoon tip will be rigged to collect a tiny genetic biopsy, or to implant a satellite tracking tag. About the same moment, scientists and politicians from a hundred countries will converge at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to argue the fate of the hunting tradition of Perry’s tribe amidst broader turmoil over Japanese, Icelandic and Norwegian whaling, the threats of a radically changing arctic environment, and surprising new data discovered by scientists as they write epitaphs for doomed species and struggle to conserve others.

For 20 years, statistician Dr. Geof Givens has been at the center of the indigenous whaling debate at the IWC. In his talk, Dr. Givens will describe how diverse whale research projects are yielding breakthrough discoveries that help shape international law about whales. He will share photos and stories from the Arctic as he describes the evolving role of science in this politically charged arena and the impacts on native people whose traditional culture hangs in the balance.

Noncredit courses do not produce academic credit nor appear on a Colorado State University academic transcript.