Bowhead Blessing 1

In case you’re wondering what baleen is, the whiskery looking stuff in this whale’s mouth is rows and rows of frayed baleen that the whale uses to filter the water out of its catch before it swallows.  (Photo from shutterstock.)

I wanted baleen bad, but I didn’t want to go to jail over it — especially in the middle of giving a whale lecture. So when Steve and I set out for Anchorage, I called NOAA and asked how I could carry a piece of a protected species around the world without risking handcuffs.
No problem, actually. If a member of a Native Alaskan tribe inscribes the baleen with artwork, it is no longer taboo. Better yet, the agent I talked to, had a few illegal pieces that were cluttering up the NOAA office, and he was happy to gift one to me for education.

Of course, he wasn’t nearly as happy as I was to get it. I felt almost like I’d been knighted. “Go forth and educate.”


About breathtakebyways

Ann Williams’ travel articles have appeared in publications all over the country including The Washington Post, Roads to Adventure, and Jack and Jill. Between researching and writing books, she specializes in creative lectures.

One thought on “Bowhead Blessing

  • Linda Kreimeyer

    What a great education tool. I love ‘Show & Tell’, being a hands on, visual learner.

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