Bowhead

Bowhead whale
Greenland – 6/29/15: Back of a large bowhead whale on the surface of the Greenland Sea.

Conservation

Least concern conservation status

Scientific Classification

OrderArtiodactyla
InfraorderCetacea
FamilyBalaenidae
GenusBalaena
Binomial nameBalaena mysticetus

Range Map

Range of species in blue

Description

The bowhead whale grows between 45-65 ft (14-20m) and weighs between 65 and 110 tons. Female whales are larger than males.

They live mainly on krill, copepods and other small and medium-sized crustaceans.

Bowhead whales are slow swimmers but can breach, flipper-slap, bobtail and spyhop. They give birth to a single calf after a gestation period of 13-14months.

They are named for their enormous, distinctive bow-shaped skull.

They are well adapted to life in their freezing home and can break through the ice to create its breathing holes.