Unalaska woman 'breaks the internet' with eagles TikTok video
A viral TikTok video posted on Jan. 20 brought Unalaska eagles to screens across the world. It was produced by Eryn Whittern, who moved to Unalaska in April of last year.
“When my husband first told me about it, I was like, ‘Unalaska? What are you talking about?’” Whittern said. “That's pretty much what everyone's reaction is on TikTok, too, because it sounds so weird.”
“Weird” is one way of putting it. Unalaska is an industrial town on an island wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea. It runs on diesel power and the might of the fishing industry. When it isn’t being pummeled by wind and rain, its natural beauty is nothing short of breathtaking. In the summer, wildflowers dot the island’s emerald-green hills and, during migratory months, whales breach in the safety of its bays.
It’s only fair that influencers might want to plant their flags here and make adventure content. But Whittern’s online presence is decidedly modest. She posts videos from her hikes and usually doesn’t “break the internet,” so to speak. That changed when she uploaded something originally meant for friends and family.
Last month, Whittern posted a TikTok video that has since racked up millions of views. It’s not of a dazzling vista or of wildlife running free in the Aleutian tundra. It takes place at the Unalaska City Landfill.
@erynwhittern You could say i was SHOOK🦅 there was even more when i turned around the other direction😳 #Alaska #AlaskaWildlife #Eagles #EagleCapital #Unalaska #AlaskaEagles #BaldEagles #fypシ #Trending #AlaskaLiving ♬ cozy vibes - RyseMusic
“I was going to the dump with my trash and there were a ton of eagles there,” Whittern said. “There's always a bunch, but there was an exceptional amount that day.”
The video opens with a dirty bald eagle, milling around by itself. Then Whittern pans to another eagle. And another. One flaps across the shot and a new tableau is revealed: the interior of the landfill baler building, with a whole flock of eagles perched atop a trash pile. Whittern pans to a walkway near the ceiling, its railing lined with over a dozen birds.
Comments poured in from all over the world. Many viewers had no idea Unalaska existed until they saw Whittern’s post. One skeptic, however, didn’t think the video was filmed in Alaska at all.
“A person commented that I'm not really from Alaska,” Whittern said. “I'm just faking it to get clout. The reasoning was that in the video, we didn't have any snow.”
As for future posts, Whittern’s plans remain unclear. She said some of the comments she got on the viral video made her apprehensive to post again. But there are still things she wants to capture that would be hard to find anywhere else.
“Now I have all these followers and I'm like, ‘Should I post something?’,” Whittern said. “Even when I was driving here, there were a couple of eagles sitting on the light posts, and they had their wings out — they're drying their wings. I was like, ‘I bet you people haven't seen that before.’”
Regardless of what Whittern does next, one thing is certain: there will be no shortage of Unalaska oddities waiting for their moment in the spotlight.