780 AM | 96.1 FM 


(907) 443-5221

Bowhead pod visits Savoonga with ice conditions unsuitable for hunting

A pod of Bowhead whales near Savoonga in December of 2021. Photo from David Akeya of Savoonga, used with permission.

Earlier this week, a pod of about nine Bowhead whales were seen off the northern coast of Savoonga.

Resident and whaler David Akeya described what he and his relatives witnessed from shore.

“And my uncle came and took out the binoculars. He saw whales popping up about 3500 feet out on the shore down there. And he came back in and told me there was a pod of whales in a pool of water down there,” Akeya explained.

The St. Lawrence Island community can normally see Bowheads swimming by this time of year, during their winter migration to southern waters, Akeya said. For him, it was exciting and reminded him of why he loves living in Savoonga.

“There was one whale that was always in open water and the rest would dive. I guess they were going to eat or try to find the trail,” Akeya said. “And the one [whale] in the open water, it would signal to the other ones where to come up for air. It was fun to see them, but we couldn’t hunt them because of the young ice.”

That’s the term used to describe the relatively thin sea ice currently forming around St. Lawrence Island. This young ice is not reliable for subsistence hunting. If local hunters hauled a whale out onto young ice, it would break apart, according to Akeya.

For now, the pod of whales continues west towards Gambell and may potentially be seen again near Savoonga in the spring.

Image at top: A pod of Bowhead whales near Savoonga in December of 2021. Photo from David Akeya of Savoonga, used with permission.

Did you enjoy this Climate & Environment/Science story?

Consider supporting our work by becoming a one-time or recurring donor.

Share this story


Recent Posts

A silver / coho salmon, held just out of the water

ADF&G Announces 24 Hour Commercial Fishing Period for Salmon

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has announced that commercial salmon fishing will open in Norton Sound Subdistricts 1-2 and 4-6 for a 24-hour period starting Saturday, July 20. ADF&G hopes to use the window to assess early-season Coho salmon abundance and ensure future management actions are well-informed.

Read More »

July 4: Rick Thoman’s Climate Highlight for Western Alaska

The following is a transcript from Rick Thoman’s weekly “Climate Highlight for Western Alaska” provided to KNOM Radio. Thoman is a Climate Specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. As we head into the latter days of July, daylights starting to

Read More »



Work for Us:




(907) 443-5221 


(907) 868-1200 

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that KNOM Radio Mission is located on the customary lands of Indigenous peoples. 

Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.