Skip to main content

Bowhead Whale

Well, Mythological Creatures Week is now over and I certainly had an interesting time fishing for information on some well, and not so well known legendary beasts. But alas! It is time to return to the realm of fact!

Image From
I've been reading Philip Hoare's The Whale lately, (which will be up on the Bibliography once I actually finish it) and have stumbled across a fact that blew my mind. Bowhead Whales (Balaena mysticetus) can live to be over 200 years old. Until a few decades ago, no one really thought that these rare, Arctic dwellers lived any longer than the standard 60-70 years for whale... and then they found the harpoons. Individual whales were found that had harpoon tips that hadn't been manufactured since the 1860s and 70s. Those whales had been swimming around with broken tips in their skin for over a hundred years. More and more specimens were found with these odd instruments, and with subsequent Amino Acid testing it has now been determined that Bowheads can live to a ripe age of 200. How do they do it? Well, their year-round Arctic habitat probably helps to slow down their metabolism. They are one of the few whales that live in such conditions for their entire lives.

Bowhead Whales are baleen whales, meaning that they consume plankton which is filtered through large keratin plates in their mouths. The baleen of a Bowhead can grow up to 13ft in length, which made it highly sought after by the commercial whaling industry. Bowheads are so named because their heads resemble an archer's bow, and the almost triangular shape of their head may help them to break through the Arctic Ice. Bowheads are able to reach lengths of 50ft, and weights of 60tons. They resemble the three Right Whale species that share their family, Balaenidae, but they are the only extant species within their genus.

Sadly, the Bowhead Whale was hunted to near extinction for their oil and baleen. A ban on hunting since the 1980s has allowed their numbers to steadily rise, and now only indigenous peoples are able to collect set numbers of them each year. The total worldwide population is unknown.


  1. Great post on the bowhead whale. Brief but very informative.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Bornean Orangutan

The Bornean Orangutan is one of two extant Orangutan species in the world. It is the third largest primate (after Gorillas) and is the largest primarily tree-dwelling animal in the world. Males are substantially larger than females, and average at around 165lbs. Bornean Orangutans are largely solitary. A handful might live within a small range but they will seldom interact with one another. Males and females only meet up to breed, which happens only once every several years. A young Orangutan will stay with it's mother for about five years, and the females tend to go about eight years between births. That is the longest interim period of any animal! Sadly, the Bornean Orangutans are in a lot of trouble. They need large forests in order to thrive, and deforestation and habitat degradation has left many homeless. They are also hunted for meat and for traditional medicines. Conservation areas are being established to help these guys in the wild, and it is believed that there are a


For anyone who was counting, yesterday was our birthday-- four years! Four years filled with animals from A to Z, more than 1,100 of them! I can't thank my readers enough, it's been wonderful! And in celebration of that milestone... I'm taking a break. Hopefully not forever, but for a little bit at least. In the mean time I plan on getting a new layout out, along with some updates to some of the older articles. I'll post updates here and on the Facebook page, I'm also brainstorming some new animal-related projects, so keep an eye out! Thanks again for four awesome years!


The Binturong ( Arctictis binturong ) also has an equally awesome alternate common name, the Bearcat! However, it really isn't much of a bear OR a cat. While it is true that it is part of the Feliforma suborder, it is not a member of family Felidae. Binturongs are a part of their own family, Viverridae, which is shared with Civets, Linsangs, and Genets. There are six subspecies of Binturong, all of which have slight differences based upon location and habitat. Binturongs range in body size from 60-100cm in length, (not including their tail which has roughly the same length) and weigh between 20 and 30lbs. Binturongs are nocturnal animals native to the rain forests of South East Asia. The species range spans through several countries including China, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. They are tree dwelling mammals, and have fully prehensile tails that basically double their body length and can be used to cling to the trees or to grasp food. Binturongs are phe