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 Bowhead Whale (Balaena mysticetus)




Bowhead Whale | Balaena mysticetus photo
Bowhead Whale and calf.

Photograph by NOAA. License: Public Domain.  (view image details)

BOWHEAD WHALE FACTS

Description
The Bowhead is a large rotund whale with similar appearance to the Right Whale. The jaw line is extremely arched giving it the common name of "bowhead". The body is mainly black with lower jaw and chin marked with white. Sometimes there is a white or gray patch on tail stock and flukes. There is no dorsal fin. It has 300 large baleen plates on each side of the mouth. These plates are about 3m - 4.5m in length. The head is massive and about one third of the total body length

Size
Average length: males 14 - 17m; females 16-18m. Weight: 75,000kg - 100,000kg.

Environment
colder waters of the northern hemisphere

Food
they feed by filtering water through their baleen plates, trapping small crustaceans such as copepods in the plates and pushing the rest of the water out.

Breeding
Usually a single calf is born after a gestation period of 12-16 months. The calf is about 900kg at birth and is about 4.25m - 5.25m long. The calf is weaned after about 12 months.

Range
Bowhead whales are found in the Arctic Ocean, north Atlantic Ocean, north Pacific Ocean, the Okhotsk Sea and the Bering Sea. They are rarely found below 45 degrees north latitude

Notes
The average age of Bowheads captured during whaling is 60 - 70 years. It is believed that they can live up to 200 years old.

Conservation Status
LR|cd

Classification
Class:Mammalia
Order:Cetacea
Family:Balaenidae
Genus:Balaena
Species:mysticetus
Common Name:Bowhead Whale