Balaenoptera musculus) . The name "bowhead" comes from their bow-shaped mouth. The lower jaw makes a U-shape around the upper jaw. This lower jaw is usually marked with white spots, contrasting with the rest of the whale's black body (Nowak 1999). Baleen in the bowhead whale's mouth is the largest of any cetacean with 300 baleen plates measuring 300-450 centimeters in vertical length. The skull makes up almost one-third of the total body length, is curved and asymetric (Lanier 1998). Bowhead whales, on average, are sixty feet in length and weigh around 100 tons. Contributing to the whale's mass is a two foot thick layer of insulating blubber (Nicklen 2000). also has a small pectoral fin for its size, less than 200 centimeters in length (Nowak 1999). Bowhead whale females measure between 16 and 18 meters in length, males measure between 14 and 17 meters in length. Bowhead whales weigh from 75,000 to 100,000 kg. (Lanier, 1998; Nicklen, 2000; Nowak, 1999)is the second largest whale in the world, second only to the blue whale (
Males attract femalethrough songs. It is unknown how long these pair bonds last or how many matings male bowhead whales take part in during mating season.
When a calf is born, its average length is 4.25 to 5.25 m. Calves grow approximately 1.5 cm a day. The calf is fed with its mother's milk until it is weaned, which occurs between nine and fifteen months after birth. After weaning, growth rate decreases. After births occur, whales segregate into groups in order to migrate. Calves and mothers are in the front group. Perhaps this is to allow them to be the first to feed on food aggregations that are encountered. For the most part it seems that females take care of the young, although there have been some cases of (Shelden and Rugh, 1995)travelling in groups of three: a mature male, a mature female, and a calf (Shelden and Rugh 1995).
When migrating, bowhead whales divide into three smaller groups in which to migrate during the spring and fall. The groups they segregate into are: subadults, intermediate mature whales, and large adults. Each of the five stocks show distinct migration patterns dependent on the supply of food and the extension or recession of the polar ice cap (Shelden and Rugh 1995). (Shelden and Rugh, 1995)
is a baleen whale, which means that they filter water through baleen plates, feeding on the organisms caught in the plates and pushing the rest of the water out. can sometimes feed opportunistically during the spring migration, but mostly feed during the winter months on their feeding grounds. They eat crustacean zooplankton, epibenthic organisms, and some benthic organisms. Crustacean zooplankton, such as copepods, are not important food sources for young , but increase in importance with age (Shelden and Rugh 1995). Copepods are small crustaceans, which a bowhead whale can filter at approximately 50,000 per minute (Stover 2001). sometimes form groups of up to fourteen individuals, in which they make a V-shape formation. In this formation they travel at the same speed and filter feed together (Nowak 1999).
Bowhead whales are protected from predators by their large size. They are also known to take shelter under ice drifts. As the oceanic waters of the polar regions become frozen, bowhead whales will swim beneath the extending polar ice cap. In order to survive under the ice cap, (Shelden and Rugh, 1995; Stover, 2001)can break through the ice in order to breathe without making themselves accessible to other marine predators (Stover 2001). In a study in 1995, it was found that one-third of the animals of the Davis Strait stock showed scars from killer whale attacks (Shelden and Rugh 1995).
Barnacles use (Lanier, 1998)as both a mode of transportation and a way to encounter fresh food supplies (Lanier 1998). Bowhead whales play an important role as predators of plankton in the arctic ocean.
The only way in which (Shelden and Rugh, 1995)may interfere with humans is in marine fishing. The large bowhead whale has been known to collide with sailing vessels on rare occassions as well as get caught in nets fishing for other oceanic life (Shelden and Rugh 1995).
James Justice (author), University of Northern Iowa, Jim Demastes (editor), University of Northern Iowa.
the body of water between Europe, Asia, and North America which occurs mostly north of the Arctic circle.
the body of water between Africa, Europe, the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), and the western hemisphere. It is the second largest ocean in the world after the Pacific Ocean.
body of water between the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), Australia, Asia, and the western hemisphere. This is the world's largest ocean, covering about 28% of the world's surface.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.
humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
a method of feeding where small food particles are filtered from the surrounding water by various mechanisms. Used mainly by aquatic invertebrates, especially plankton, but also by baleen whales.
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
specialized for swimming
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
an animal that mainly eats plankton
the regions of the earth that surround the north and south poles, from the north pole to 60 degrees north and from the south pole to 60 degrees south.
mainly lives in oceans, seas, or other bodies of salt water.
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
uses touch to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
young are relatively well-developed when born
animal constituent of plankton; mainly small crustaceans and fish larvae. (Compare to phytoplankton.)
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