SIKU ajorpoq - a photo exhibition from Greenland

© Ragnar Axelsson & Carsten Egevang

The Sea Ice

 

The presence of sea ice is essential for the traditional way of living in the Arctic. The sea ice provides hunting ground for the dog sledges making it possible for the hunters to cover large areas in the search of food. Furthermore, the ice edge – the transition zone between sea ice and open water - is a biological hotspot where the game animal congregates. Few years ago, the presence of sea ice was predictable. During late autumn, the sea would freeze and stay frozen until early summer. After the brake-up of the ice the sea again would become accessible for the use of small boats. The periods of hunting were long, and knowledge of the best locations to find animals were passed on from generation to generation.

The Sled Dog

 

The Greenlandic hunter and his dogs are iconic representatives of Arctic culture and tradition: together they are of fundamental importance to Greenlandic self-perception. The sled dog represents one of the few living pure-bred indigenous dog breeds world-wide still being used for its original purpose. The breed has been part of Inuit livelihood throughout history. For centuries the Inuit have used the sled dog for hunting,
hauling, and guarding; they have used its fur for clothing and its meat as emergency food supply. The sled dog is not a pet, it is an animal living outdoors semi-wildly, for its entire life, even in the arctic winter.

The hunting

 

The altered sea ice situation also means a change in the whereabouts of the wildlife. Sea ice determines the migration routes of the animals. The annual circle of life is driven by the coming and going of sea ice. The rapid climate changes observed within the last decades are likely to affect the highly synchronized interactions between climate and biology in the Arctic.