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Ice-Out Update: May 1, 1998

News from Official Ice-out Observation Posts

River Teno, Utsjoki, Finland (Lapland)

To: Journey North
From: Students of Utsjoki, Finland
Date: May 1, 1998

Hi! We are writing from a little village called Utsjoki from northern Finland (69.883 N, 27.017 E). We are here in the northernmost corner of EU (European Union) and the Teno River is the border between Norway and Finland. It is famous for its salmon and we think salmon is the best fish in the world.

Ice-out is quite an important event in our village. It usually takes place in May. Every year our elementary school arranges an Ice-Out Betting: you are supposed to guess the exact date, hour and minute when the special signpost passes the betting line in the river. The main prize is a river boat. The money collected goes to school trips.

When the ice blocks start to move everyone is anxious to see how they rush down with power! People gather along the riverside and the betting station to watch. Perhaps the ice is the last proof of winter : it is a good-bye to winter and a welcome to summer with open arms. Fishermen are really eagerly waiting for the ice-out. It means the beginning of the season.

Sometimes the ice just melts down without any show, some other time it breaks up so noisily you can hear it from distances. The River Teno used to flood so much that that one year people had to row boats in their own yards! But this is unusual nowadays. The bridge to our neighbours has broken many times, however.

The water gets quite high normally. Last year the ice flow took a sauna with it. This was a bit funny because there were people having a bath in the sauna at the time. They had to rush out in such a hurry they didn't have time to get dressed!

When the ice breaks up the Nature shows how powerful it is. And we do need it to realize how small and weak we are. It makes us feel small, but also great: to be part of something so wonderful!

Utsjoen saamelaislukio
Aija Honkonen
Maija Sujala
Eeva Laiti
Heini Wesslin
Heidi Karjalainen
Tikigaq School on the Chukchi Sea

To: Journey North
From: Sheila Gaquin
Date: April 27, 1998

An umiaq amidst the floe ice, and a lookout standing on the shore.

Last Friday, April 24th a steady north wind was blowing. Most of the whaling crews were camped out on the ice, and many kids were absent from school because they were needed in whaling camp. A few whales were seen moving through the lead, although none were taken. Then, Saturday night, the wind shifted to the southeast. This blew off-shore ice toward the beach and completely closed the lead. The whalers came back home.

For now the whaling crews must sit and wait. The whaling captains are watching the sky for evidence of shifting weather patterns, and they are watch to ocean to see if shifting currents will carry the ice away. Everyone is anxious to be back on the ice. Subsistence hunting takes more than skill and courage, it takes great patience.

If you would like to learn more about the ancient tradition of whaling in Point Hope, and see pictures from last years whaling, visit our school district's homepage and look under "Arctic Celebrations" Point Hope.

Incidently, Gray whales and all whales with dorsal fins, usually come this way only after all the ice is gone. This is because ice can damage their dorsal fins. True Arctic whales, like Belugas and Bowheads, have no dorsal fins and so are often found moving among the flow ice.

We see grey whales--and other kinds as well--in summer when all the ice is gone. There are two dead Gray whales on the beach left from last summer. It is believed they were attacked by Orca whales (also called Killer whales) who feed in the area in the summer. In Puget Sound and the Inside Passage, scientist believe Orcas stay in family pods and feed mainly on fish. But the Orcas that come to the Arctic are believed to be young, rogue males and feed largely on marine mammals).

Sheila Gaquin
Tikigaq School(say Tick'-key-yock)
Point Hope, AK
Tikigaq WWW Site

The Next Ice-Out Update will Be Posted on May 15, 1998.

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