Bowhead whales are large marine mammals that can grow up to 60 feet long and weigh as much as 100 tons. They have a thick layer of blubber to keep them warm in the Arctic and sub-Arctic waters where they live. They have a large, triangular head that makes up nearly one-third of their body length, which is where they get their name.
They are baleen whales, meaning they have plates of keratin in their mouths instead of teeth to filter food from the water. They are known for their longevity, and some individuals may live for more than 200 years.
Bowhead whales are found primarily in the Arctic and sub-Arctic waters, such as the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort seas. They also occur in the Canadian Arctic and Hudson Bay. They spend most of their time in the cold, ice-covered waters near the coast and in the Arctic pack ice. They migrate seasonally to take advantage of different food sources and to breed.
They are known to spend most of the year in the Arctic, although some individuals may migrate to lower latitudes during the winter months.
They feed primarily on small planktonic crustaceans such as copepods, krill, and arrow worms, but also on small fish like polar cod and Arctic cod. They use their baleen plates to filter large amounts of water, trapping the small crustaceans inside their mouths.
Bowhead whales are known to use their heads to break through sea ice to access areas where their prey is more concentrated. They have been observed using tools: Bowhead whales in the Arctic have been observed using chunks of ice as tools to scrape their skin free of parasites.
They are known for their vocalizations: Bowhead whales have a wide range of vocalizations, including songs that can last for hours, and they can also make a variety of other sounds such as grunts, moans, and whistles.
They are known for their strong social bonds: Bowhead whales have been observed forming strong social bonds, and they are known to travel in large groups.
They are known to have high site fidelity: Bowhead whales have been known to return to the same feeding and migration areas for many years, and some individuals have been known to return to the same area for decades.
Bowhead whales are apex predators: Bowhead whales are at the top of the food chain and help to control populations of smaller creatures that they eat, which can help to maintain a balance in the ecosystem. They are important for nutrient cycling: Bowhead whales consume large amounts of plankton, which helps to transfer energy from the lower trophic levels to the higher levels.