The Inupiat people have lived in the region and depended upon intact Arctic ecosystems to provide resources—such as fish, whales, walrus, seals and seabirds—to support subsistence for generations. These communities continue to practice subsistence traditions, harvesting a significant amount of food from the ocean and land. These practices are essential to Inupiat people’s identity and culture. For many residents of the Arctic, there is a direct connection between the continued health of the Arctic Ocean and the health of their food supply and culture.
The intense noise of seismic exploration and drilling has already pushed marine mammals farther out to sea. According to the National Academy of Sciences and reports from Inupiat subsistence hunters, drilling has already changed the migratory patterns of bowhead whales by as much as 30 miles. The Inupiat people who live on Alaska’s North Slope call the Arctic Ocean “their garden.” The bowhead whale is the foundation for the Inupiat people’s subsistence lifestyle – they depend on it and the marine life of the Arctic for the survival of their way of life and ancient culture.