The seasonal seal hunting activities provided an important economic basis for Northern Norway from around 1900.
The seal hunting in the Arctic had both economic and cultural importance for the growth of the city of Tromsø. This exhibition consists of a diorama showing how the sealing activities were carried out in the first half of the last century, based on an original light boat from the Arctic vessel Heimland I of Tromsø, which sank in the Western Ice in 1939.
The hunting took place in early spring. Once in the ice, the seals were spotted from the crow’s nest and, if the ice did not stretch all the way from the vessel to the seals, a light hunting boat had to be used. Each member of the light hunting boat’s three-man crew had clearly defined roles. The rifleman sat at the front and the rower at the back. The rower’s job was to ensure that the boat moved as silently as possible towards ice floes where the seals were. The man who sat/stood in the middle was called the “blindkaggen” in Norwegian. As they approached the seal, his job was to pole the boat towards the ice and then jump onto the ice and kill it using a hakapik (sealing pick) before it escaped into the water.
Seal hunting still provokes strong reactions worldwide. In the years from 1960 and 2010, when the EU Seal Regime sat strict conditions for trade in seal products, there was a dramatic decline in Norwegian catches. Today, sealing is strictly regulated, and only a few vessels take part in the activity.