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Bowhead Whales: Balaena mysticetus

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  • maui444
    Bowhead whales live in the Northern Hemisphere, around pack ice, often in shallow waters. Stocks of bowhead whales are known to occur: North of Europe, between
    Message 1 of 61 , Aug 12, 2001
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      Bowhead whales live in the Northern Hemisphere,
      around pack ice, often in shallow waters. Stocks of
      bowhead whales are known to occur: North of Europe,
      between Canada and Greenland, in Hudson Bay area, the
      Okhotsk Sea, and the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas.
      Bowhead whales migrate seasonally within these waters,
      between summer feeding areas and wintering areas.
      <br><br>They are up to 65 feet (19.8 meters) long. Bowheads
      have extremely large heads and relatively stocky
      (short and fat) bodies, highly arched jaws (a narrow
      upper jaw and a large, lower jaw), two blow holes, and
      no dorsal ridge or fin. <br><br>It is thought that
      baleen whales (including bowhead whales) probably have
      excellent hearing, which is valuable in the dark ocean
      environment where vision is less useful. Low-frequency sound
      can travel great distances under water, which is
      great for bowhead whales since scientists believe the
      whales' ears are designed for low-frequency
      hearing.<br><br>Bowhead whales are highly vocal and have a large
      repertoire of calls and songs. The echoes of these calls may
      be used to help the whales navigate through the ice
      as they migrate.<br><br>As bowheads are baleen
      whales, they filter their food through their long baleen
      plates. Bowhead whales open their great mouths and graze
      along the surface, in the water column, or on the sea
      floor. Bowheads mostly eat zooplankton including
      copepods and small shrimp-like animals called euphausiids
      (most are only 1-3 mm long). Scientists estimate that a
      bowhead whale needs to eat about 100 metric tons of
      crustaceans per year.<br><br>Most female bowhead whales are
      sexually mature by the time they reach a length of 45.9
      feet (14 meters). Length of sexual maturity in males
      is not well documented. Mating behavior has been
      observed year-round, though most conceptions are believed
      to occur during late winter or spring. Females are
      pregnant for at least 12 months and pregnancies occur
      approximately every three to seven years. Most calves are born
      between April and early June during the spring migration.
      Calves are born able to swim. A mother and calf form a
      very close attachment. The calf spends most of its
      time swimming close to its mother and is carried in
      the mother's slip stream.<br><br>Bowhead whales'
      limited population and harsh aquatic home make bowhead
      whales the most difficult of all large whales to study.
      Because of an absence of teeth (which can be used to
      estimate age in other mammals), it is difficult to tell
      how old bowhead whales are when they die. Based on
      the recovery of stone harpoon tips, it is believed
      that bowhead whales live well past 70 years old.
      Recent studies, using tissues from bowhead whale eyes,
      suggest that these whales may live over 100
      years.<br><br>Bowhead whales were commercially hunted for oil, meat,
      and apparel materials (corset stays, umbrella ribs,
      buggy whips, and more) from the 17th through the early
      20th century. Today some Native Alaskans are allowed
      to hunt a limited number of bowhead whales for
      subsistence and products to produce native handicrafts.
      Bowheads are also preyed by killer whales, some die after
      become trapped and frozen in heavy ice, while others die
      as result of other natural causes.
    • maui444
      How close to shore? Within a 100 yards in many cases, if the water is deep enough..... How many? The traditional belief is that there s around
      Message 61 of 61 , Feb 25, 2002
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        How close to shore?<br>Within a 100 yards in many
        cases, if the water is deep enough.....<br><br>How
        many?<br>The traditional belief is that there's around 1500
        Humpback Whales that congregate each year near Hawaii
        during their wintering from Alaska. We try to do a
        census but you know that's not gonna be too acurate
        because you can't count things hiding away in the ocean
        depths too easily. Probably safe to say somewhere
        between 1500-3000 Humpback whales visiting Hawaii now.
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