One with the Whale

If you don’t hunt you die. That is the reality on the tiny, Alaskan island that is home to the Apassingok family. When the shy teenager Chris becomes the youngest to ever harpoon a whale for his village, another struggle for survival begins.

Hunting whales is a matter of life or death for the Yu’pik people of St. Lawrence in the Bering Sea. So, the entire village is ecstatic over the kid’s heroic accomplishment. His mother proudly shares the news on Facebook. To her surprise, thousands of keyboard activists and trolls brutally attack Chris with hate messages and death threats. Caught in the crosshairs of climate change, food security, online bullying and centuries of racially motivated attacks from outsiders, the Apassingoks and their village struggle to find foothold in both the ancient and modern world.

One with the Whale is a heartwarming yet thrilling story documented through stunning visuals, including some electrifying action scenes, and candid testimonies, co-created with Siberian Yu’pik.


Over the last 15 years, Jim has established himself as a leading storyteller on the frontline of environmental conflicts. A radical animal rights journalist for many years opposed to commercial whaling and sealing, Jim now works closely with indigenous and coastal peoples around the world fighting for recognition and environmental justice.

Pete Chelkowski has just completed four seasons of First Alaskans for Nat Geo, an extension of the Life Below Zero series.  He was a field producer for Discovery's Ocean Warriors, where he met co-director Jim Wickens. He produced and created Fighting Tuna for Discovery networks.

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