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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Bowhead Whale Balaena mysticetus

Named after its arching lower jaw, the bowhead whale has the longest baleen plates of any whale at up to 15 ft (4.5 m).

Grayish black with a paler chin, the bowhead whale has a huge head in proportion to its body and remarkably thick blubber, which insulates it in near-freezing water. Bowheads can break upward through ice over 12 in (30 cm) thick, allowing them to maintain open water holes throughout the Arctic winter.

What Oceana Does to Protect Bowhead Whales

Oceana works to protect Arctic habitats from climate change and industrialization.

Bowhead Whalezoom image
  • Order Cetacea
  • Length 45–60 ft (14–18 m)
  • Weight 55–65 tons (50–60 metric tons)
  • Habitat Polar and subpolar waters
  • Distribution Arctic Ocean, Bering Sea, adjoining regions of north Atlantic and north Pacific
Bowhead Whale habitat mapzoom image