Was kayak hunting dangerous?

October 3, 2006

Very interesting about greenland kayakers from here:

Very dangerous.

Some times a wounded animal wound attack the kayak. Walrus and whales were especially dangerous when injured. Some times a walrus would attack a kayak even if the kayak was not hunting it. Sometimes the harpoon line would tangle and upset the kayak.

It is important to remember these people had no thermal protection against the cold waters when they wet exited since there was no equivalent to the wetsuit or drysuit (although in Greenland there was an equivalent to the modern drysuit but that was only used by Umiak crews hunting whales). The water temperature they paddled in could be as low as 27 degrees F since saltwater has a lower freezing point than freshwater. Glaciers helped to lower the water temperature by calving icebergs into the water. To wet exit the boat was considered suicide by many groups. Also, there was no equivalent to the modern PFD.

In South Greenland in 1888 there were 162 deaths. 90 were males and 24 of the males died while kayaking. In 1889, there were 272 deaths. 152 were male and 24 died while kayaking. The population consisted of 5614 of which there were 2591 males.

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