A smooth back with no dorsal fin, a blowhole placed in a high crown at the top of the head, and a thick layer of blubber for insulation equip them for this icy environment.
Bowheads skim-feed tiny crustaceans. A whale draws a huge amount of water into its mouth, then raises its tongue, which forces the water back out through baleen filters. The tongue then sweeps the trapped food back toward the throat. The diet consists of planktonic crustaceans, which are filtered through the baleen plates. Bowhead whales often skim-feed on the surface of the sea but also gather food from the sea floor.
Bowheads are social animals, and communicate through long-distance vocalizations, some carrying five to ten kilometres. Males become involved in showy bouts of breaching and fluke-slapping, probably because they are competing with one another for access to females. Bowheads are slow breeders, and sexual maturity may not be reached for 20 years. A single calf is born every three or four years after a gestation period of about 13 months.
- * Encyclopedia of Earth. Author: Encyclopedia of Life. "Bowhead whale". Topic editor: C.Michael Hogan. Ed.-in-chief Cutler J.Cleveland. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC http://www.eoearth.org/article/Bowhead_Whale
- * S.E.Cosens. 2004. Baffin Bay-Davis Strait and Hudson Bay-Foxe Basin Bowheads: Update on Research 2003/04. International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee.
- * K.J.Finley. 1990. Isabella Bay, Baffin Island: an important historical and present-day concentration area for the endangered bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) of the eastern Canadian arctic. Arctic 43(2): 137-152.
- * K.J.Finley. 2000. Natural history and conservation of the Greenland whale, or Bowhead whale, in the Northwest Atlantic. Arctic 54: 55-76.
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