The Bowhead whale, whose scientific name is Balaena Mysticetus, is one of the world’s largest mammals. Named for the triangular-shaped head it uses to crack through the Arctic ice, these amazing creatures can grow to a length of 66 feet and a weight upwards of 118,000 pounds.
Everything about the whale is huge especially its mouth which is said to be the largest of any mammal. Inside rests a tongue that can weigh up to 1,000 pounds. Instead of teeth, the whale’s gigantic maw is lined with needle-thin bristles called baleen, which it uses to scoop up massive amounts of krill, plankton and fish and then by pressing its tongue filters out water. The Bowhead is known to consume over 3,970 pounds of food per day.
This amazing animal is one of the longest-lived creatures in the world, and some scientists believe that a life span of up to 200 years is conceivable. In 2007, after a Bowhead whale was captured in an approved whale hunt, scientists discovered a harpoon that was over 130 years old lodged in its blubber. Bowheads live most of their long lives trolling the Arctic and sub-Arctic waters.
For almost 2,000 years, Bowheads have been hunted because of the large amounts of oil, baleen, meat, and muktuk (skin with blubber) they produce . After almost being decimated by commercial whaling in the 19th and 20th centuries, Bowhead whales are on the rebound with a current population of approximately 10,000.
Listen to a Bowhead whale’s song: