The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Walrus Hunters Rescued in Canada

Posted on | March 15, 2023 | Comments Off on Walrus Hunters Rescued in Canada

Not all heroes wear capes

When my wife told me this story, which sounds like it was written by Jack London, I could scarcely believe it, but now I’ve seen the pictures and watched the video — screencap above — and can confirm that it actually happened. Three hunters from the Inuit village of Igloolik had gone out Saturday in a small boat to hunt walrus. The temperature was four below zero — excellent walrus-hunting weather, if you’re an Inuit, I reckon.

So they found a walrus and shot it three times, and were preparing to harpoon it, when the wounded beast rammed their boat, tipping it over. The three hunters managed to climb on top of the capsized boat, but their prospects for survival were not good. Did I mention it was four degrees below zero? “The only thing I thought was, we’re going to die,” hunter Joey Sarpinak told CBC News. They were able to transmit a distress signal, and a volunteer rescue team was mobilized.

It so happened (because of the “truth is stranger than Jack London fiction” nature of this story) that a Canadian military team was nearby, engaged in an arctic survival training exercise, and these soldiers joined the rescue operation. Among the Canadians, for some reason, was an American whose parents have been sternly warned not to say anything about where their son has been for the past several weeks, because “operational security” or whatever. Anyway . . .

To reach the rescue team, the three hunters had to crawl across a moving ice floe to the place where the rescuers were waiting to throw them a rope. There is a video clip of the rescue operation and, 27 seconds into the video, you might notice one member of the rescue team strip off his parka and gloves. As he later explained to his mother, he was prepared to dive into the freezing water, to swim out to the ice floe, if necessary to save the hunters. Did I mention it was four below zero?

Fortunately, the hunters were able to reach the rope and were rescued without any further Jack London-scripted heroics, thank God.

After the walrus hunters had been treated and released from the hospital, a celebration event was held in the town of Sanirajak (Hall Beach), where the hunters posed with the troops who helped rescue them.

One of these soldiers is not Canadian

From the story of the rescue in Nunatsiaq News:

The search and rescue members who helped the three hunters are currently training on the land and could not be reached for comment, said Maj. Trevor Reid, a public affairs officer at the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, Ont.

“Could not be reached for comment,” indeed.

But you could quote this comment: Rangers Lead the Way.




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