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Baleen Baskets

Baleen is a material obtained by Yupik, Inupiaq and St. Lawrence Islanders in Alaska from harvested whales, particularly the bowhead. Baleen plates have hair-like structures that filter out tiny floating organisms known as plankton and krill. Baleen, a hard fingernail like material, is found in the mouth of plankton-eating whales such as the humpback, grey, and bowhead whales common to the northwest coast and arctic oceans. Alaskan natives, with their subsistence culture, have long depended upon whales as a main source of food, and they are allowed to harvest a limited amount each year to fulfill the food needs of their villages. They utilize all of the whales they harvest, including the baleen which they fashion into various types of traditional art forms.

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