Sunday, August 19, 2012

born in 1812 - Bowhead Whale - a 200-year-old mammal

The bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) is a baleen whale of the right whale family Balaenidae in suborder Mysticeti. A stocky dark-colored whale without a dorsal fin, it can grow to 20 m (66 ft) in length.

This thick-bodied species can weigh 75 tonnes (74 long tons; 83 short tons) to 100 tonnes (98 long tons; 110 short tons),[3] second only to the blue whale, although the bowhead's maximum length is less than several other whales.

It lives entirely in fertile Arctic and sub-Arctic waters, unlike other whales that migrate to feed or reproduce to low latitude waters. It is also known as Greenland right whale or Arctic whale. American whalemen called it the steeple-top, polar whale,[4] or Russia or Russian whale.  
The bowhead is perhaps the longest-living mammal, and has the largest mouth of any animal.[5]

DNA samples taken from living Bowhead Whales (nearly commercially fished to death) indicate a life-span of OVER TWO HUNDRED YEARS.

So, there's a Bowhead Whale alive today that could have been born back in Napoleonic times, 1812 or so.


Bob Hilscher said...

Indeed Bowhead whales live along life, and there is much that needs to be done on this planet to save and protect them. They are one of the most amazing animals I have had the opportunity to spend time with. Hopefully we humans will come to their aid and protect them from the threat of increased shipping and possible oil spills on both sides of the Arctic Ocean. I have posted a four-part series about my time with Arctic bowhead whales at:

Mike Philbin said...


it's great that you made it to Kekerten Island to take pictures of these whales and the Inuit life style.

The whole point of the Free Planet website is that we REALISE, just realise, that we have a limited resource situation LIVE, right now, on this planet. We need to take back (as Custodians) what is ours (i.e. the Diversity) and protect Planet Earth from the GREED of the Profit-based Game.

Bob Hilscher said...

Mike, It was great to spend time with the Inuit, and to work with them out on the ocean. It was one of the toughest film shoots I have ever undertaken. But it was all worth it, to document the life and times of the Bowhead whales, off Baffin Island.

I see you have written a book about Owls. You might find one of my Owl postings interesting,