Monday, February 1, 2010

Balaena mysticetus, Bowhead whale

Bowhead whale, or Greenland white whale, or Arctic whale is a kind of right whale (perhaps) that lives on plankton, hence is also called a baleen whale. So many names for one creature.

They grow to 66 feet in length (20 meters) and can weigh more than 100 tons, making them the second largest species of whale (behind the Blue whale). The females are larger than the males and are believed to undergo a kind of menopause because they lose reproductive ability long before they die.

They do not, apparently, migrate. They spend their lives in the arctic. They break ice with their massive skulls so that they can surface to breathe.

Their population has been halved by whaling. Fewer than 25,000 of them are estimated to exist. There was once 50,000 of them.

Individuals are believed to live as long as 200 years. You know how scientists began to understand the lifespan of bowhead whales? By dating the harpoons stuck in individuals. A whale "caught" in 2007 had a harpoon from 1890 stuck in its neck.


Meghan said...

What a beautiful dish -- and a fascinating story! I love things that have little facts and meaning behind them.

Rosa said...

Thanks, Meghan! :)