Pangnirtung Inuit and the Greenland Shark: Co-producing Knowledge of a Little Discussed Species

Abstract

When faced with a species that is seldom encountered or discussed, can local or indigenous people piece together their accumulated experience to make inferences about the ecology of that species? In this paper the Greenland shark acts as a model to study how the Inuit of southern Baffin Island are able to produce ecological knowledge. We examine experiential information, reflections, variations in knowledge, and sense-making related to the Greenland Shark, and present a knowledge co-production process based on heuristic reasoning. The process of knowledge co-production has similarities to fuzzy logic, and highlights the adaptability and versatility of indigenous knowledge systems to generate new understandings about the species and its role in the Arctic marine environment. Interactions between the Inuit and researchers can provide a forum to facilitate knowledge co-production, and can be used as a strategy to engage the Indigenous and traditional peoples in resource management and conservation.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. Armitage, D., Berkes, F., Dale, A., Kocho-Schellenberg, E., and Patton, E. (2011). Co-management and the co-production of knowledge: learning to adapt in Canada’s Arctic. Global Environmental Change 21: 995–1004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bennet, J., and Rowley, S. (2004). Uqalurait: An Oral History of Nunavut. McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal and Kingston.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Berkes, F. (2012). Sacred Ecology, 3rd ed. Routledge, New York and London.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Berkes, F., and Kislalioglu Berkes, M. (2009). Ecological complexity, fuzzy logic, and holism in indigenous knowledge. Futures 41: 6–12.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bernard, H. R. (2006). Research methods in anthropology: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Altamira Press, Los Angeles.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, 3rd ed. Sage, London.

    Google Scholar 

  7. David, M., and Sutton, C. D. (2004). Social Research: The Basics. Sage, Thousand Oaks.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Davidson-Hunt, I. J. (2006). Adaptive learning networks: developing resource management knowledge through social learning forums. Human Ecology 34: 593–614.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Davidson-Hunt, I. J., and O’Flaherty, R. M. (2007). Researchers, indigenous peoples and place-based learning communities. Society and Natural Resources 20: 291–305.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Dennard, S. T., MacNeil, M. A., Treble, M. A., Campana, S., and Fisk, A. T. (2010). Hierarchical analysis of a remote, Arctic, artisanal longline fishery. ICES Journal of Marine Science 67: 41–51.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Freeman, M. M. R. (1993). Traditional land users as a legitimate source of environmental expertise. In Williams, N. M., and Baines, G. (eds.), Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Wisdom for Sustainable Development. Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, pp. 153–161.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Goldstein, B. E. (2008). Skunkworks in the embers of the cedar fire: Enhancing resilience in the aftermath of disaster. Human Ecology 36: 15–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Grant, S., and Berkes, F. (2007). Fisher knowledge as expert system: a case from the longline fishery of Grenada, the Eastern Caribbean. Fisheries Research 84: 162–170.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Hammersley, M., and Atkinson, P. (2005). Ethnography: Principles in Practice. Routledge, London and New York.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Hart, E. J., and Amos, B. (2004). Learning about Marine Resources and their Use through Inuvialuit Oral History. Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre, Inuvik.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Hay, K., Aglukark, D., Igutsaq, D., Ikkidluak, J., and Mike, M. (2000). Final Report on the Inuit Bowhead Knowledge Study, Nunavut, Canada. Nunavut Management Board, Iqaluit.

  17. Idrobo, C. J. (2008). The Pangnirtung Inuit and the Greenland shark. Master’s Thesis. Natural Resources Institute—University of Manitoba, Winnipeg. http://www.umanitoba.ca/institutes/natural_resources/canadaresearchchair/thesis/Idrobo.Masters%20Thesis.Feb%2009.pdf.

  18. Iskandar, J., and Ellen, R. (2007). Innovation, ‘hybrid’ knowledge and the conservation of relict rainforest in upland Banten. In Ellen, R. (ed.), Modern Crises and Traditional Strategies. Berghahn, New York, pp. 133–165.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Kilabuk, P. (1998). A Study of Inuit Knowledge of the Southeast Baffin Beluga. Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, Iqaluit.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Laidler, G. J., Dialla, A., and Joamie, E. (2008). Human geographies of sea ice: freeze/thaw processes around Pangnirtung, Nunavut, Canada. Polar Record 44: 335–361.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Laidler, G. J., Ford, J. D., Gough, W. A., et al. (2009). Travelling and hunting in a changing Arctic: assessing Inuit vulnerability to sea ice change in Igloolok, Nunavut. Climatic Change 94: 363–397.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Leclerc, L. M., Lydersen, C., Haug, T., et al. (2011). Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus) scavenge offal from minke (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) whaling operations in Svalbard (Norway). Polar Research 30: 7342 doi:10.3402/polar.v30i0.7342.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Mackinson, S. (2000). An adaptive fuzzy expert system for predicting structure, dynamics and distribution of herring shoals. Ecological Modelling 126: 155–178.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Marquardt, O., and Caulifield, R. A. (1996). Development of west Greenlandic markets for country foods since the 18th century. Arctic 49: 107–119.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Nazarea, V. (1998). Cultural Memory and Biodiversity. The University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Noongwook, G., The Native Village of Savoonga, The Native Village of Gambell, Huntington, H. P., and George, J. C. (2007). Traditional knowledge of the bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) around St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. Arctic 60: 47–54.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Pearce, T., Wright, H., Notaina, R., Kudlak, A., Smit, B., Ford, J. D., and Furgal, C. (2011). Transmission of environmental knowledge and land skills among Inuit men in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, Canada. Human Ecology 39: 271–288.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Peloquin, C., and Berkes, F. (2009). Local knowledge, subsistence harvests, and socialecological complexity in James Bay. Human Ecology 37: 533–545.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Priest, H., and Usher, P. J. (2004). The Nunavut Wildlife Harvest Study. Final Report. Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, Iqaluit.

  30. Randa, V. (1994). Inuillu uumajuillu: Les animaux dans les savoirs, les représentations et la langue des Iglulingmiut (Arcticque oriental canadien). Doctoral thesis. Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, University of Paris, Paris.

  31. Robson, J. P., Miller, A. M., Idrobo, C. J., et al. (2009). Building communities of learning: Indigenous ways of knowing in contemporary natural resources and environmental management. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 39: 173–177.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Skomal, G. B., and Benz, G. W. (2004). Ultrasonic tracking of Greenland sharks, Somniosus microcephalus, under Arctic ice. Marine Biology 145: 489–498.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Stevenson, M. G. (1997). Inuit, Whalers, and Cultural Persistence: Structure in Cumberland Sound and Central Inuit Social Organization. Oxford University Press, Toronto.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Treble, M. (2008). Cumberland Sound Greenland halibut (turbot) inshore fishery. Canadian Science Advisory Report, 2008/040. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Central and Arctic Region, Winnipeg.

  35. Turner, N. J., and Berkes, F. (2006). Coming to understanding: Developing conservation through incremental learning in the Pacific Northwest. Human Ecology 34: 495–513.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Van Londen, S. (1996). Mythology and Ecology: A Problematic “Pas de Deux”. Cultural Dynamics 8(1): 25–50.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Vogel, C., Moser, S. C., Kasperson, R. E., and Dabelko, G. D. (2007). Linking vulnerability, adaptation, and resilience science to practice: pathways, players and partnerships. Global Environmental Change 17: 349–364.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Weichselbaum, E., Benelam, B., and Costa, H.S. (2005). Traditional Foods in Europe. European Food Information Resource Consortium. Synthesis Report 6. 78 pp. Available at: http://www.eurofir.net/.

  39. Yano, K. J., Stevens, D., and Campagno, L. J. V. (2007). Distribution, reproduction and feeding of Greenland shark Somniosus (Somniosus) microcephalus, with notes on two other sleeper sharks, Somniosus (Somniosus) pacificus and Somniosus (Somniosus) antarcticus. Journal of Fish Biology 70: 374–390.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank the people of Pangnirtung for their contributions to the research and for opening the doors of their world. In particular, we are indebted to the late Noah and Alukie Metuq for home stay, Jaco Ishulutaq and the late Joeelee Papatsie for their teachings during hunting and fishing trips, and Andrew John Dialla for translation and acting as community liaison. C.J. Idrobo’s work was supported by a Manitoba Graduate Scholarship; the International Polar Year (IPY) program through a grant to Dr. Aaron Fisk, PI; and the Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Community-based Resource Management. F. Berkes’ work has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canada Research Chairs program (http://www.chairs.gc.ca).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Carlos Julián Idrobo.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Idrobo, C.J., Berkes, F. Pangnirtung Inuit and the Greenland Shark: Co-producing Knowledge of a Little Discussed Species. Hum Ecol 40, 405–414 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-012-9490-7

Download citation

Keywords

  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Inuit
  • Co-production of knowledge
  • Fuzzy logic
  • Greenland shark
  • Arctic ecosystems
  • Baffin Island
  • Cumberland Sound
  • Iqalukjuak