Species Profile: The Bowhead Whale

The Bowhead Whale is one of the largest whales on Earth and it has the largest mouth of any creature on the Planet. 

A Bowhead Whale Spy-Hopping

A Bowhead Whale Spy-Hopping In The Ulbansky Bay, Northwestern Okhotsk Sea (Author: Olga Shpak/Wikimedia Commons cc by-sa 3.0)

The Bowhead Whale is one of the biggest whales on earth and it’s a species belonging in the Balaenidae family. They live exclusively in the waters of the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of the Earth.

It has a dark, stocky body, with a white patch under its lower jaw and it lacks a dorsal fin. Their heads are large, triangular, and so strong that they use them to break through thick sheets of ice in order to breath. Some Inuit hunters have even reported seeing bowhead whales breaking through up to 60 cm (24 in) of solid ice.

This whale gets its common name from its strongly bowed lower jaw and narrow upper jaw. These are filter feeders: instead of teeth, they have baleen plates for filtering prey after gulping large amounts of water. Interestingly, the bowhead whale has the largest baleen plates of any whale: about 3 m (9.8 ft).

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Species Profile: The North Atlantic Right Whale

The North Atlantic Right Whale is the most endangered species among whales today. 

North Atlantic Right Whale and a calf

North Atlantic Right Whale With A Calf (Photo: NMFS NOAA)

The North Atlantic Right Whale is one of three baleen right whale species in the Eubalaena genus. They are among the biggest whales on earth.

Their docile and easy to hunt nature made them a target for ruthless hunting in past decades.  Today, they are easily the most endangered whales in the world.

These whales are easy to identify with the callosities on their heads (caused by whale lice infestation), and a broad back lacking any dorsal fin. Also, their mouths arcs deeply from just below the eye. The North Atlantic right whale has a very dark gray/black body and some individuals have white patches on the belly.

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Whale Collisions: The Little Known Danger That Ships Can Avoid

The risks of Whale Collisions increases with more marine traffic. But they can be avoided.

A Severely Injured Humpback Whale: Whale Collisions

A Severely Injured Humpback Whale (Photo: NOAA)

Whale Collisions have increased in recent years thereby putting pressure on an already threatened group of animals. For instance, collisions with oceangoing vessels killed more than 24 of the 67 right whales found dead between 1970 and 2007.

Many more collisions are not recorded or reported. This undermines efforts to help ensure that effective measures are put in place to reduce them.

Whale collisions are a serious incident because the impact causes severe injuries and even deaths to both the whales and sometimes the human beings using the vessel.

The most commonly affected whale species are humpback whales, blue whales, and the north Atlantic right

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Japanese Whale Hunting: The Facts And Impact On Whales

Japanese Whale Hunting remains a persistent and controversial matter that won’t go away.

The Nisshin Maru: Japanese Whale Hunting

The Nisshin Maru Whaling Vessel Returned With 333 Minke Whale Carcasses After A Hunt in March 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Kyodo)

Whales were excessively exploited during the height of the whaling industry back in the 18th and 19th centuries. So much so that many species like the right whale and the blue whale dropped almost to the point of extinction. The right whale for instance is still critically endangered with just about 500 of them alive today.

Though most whales are yet to return to their pre-whaling population, a quick intervention by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986, saved many of them from disappearing completely.

At present, almost all whale species are recovering because of the IWC’s 1986 ban on commercial whaling. However, some countries still persist in the practice. They are Iceland, Norway, and Japan.

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Dead Right Whales Are Turning Up In The Gulf Of St. Lawrence

Despite being the most endangered whales on the planet, 10 dead Right Whales turned up so far in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Right Whale Breaching Water: Dead Right Whales found in Gulf of St. Lawrence

A Right Whale Breaching Water (Author: Michaël Catanzariti cc by-sa 3.0)

In a phenomenon that has left marine biologists and scientists completely baffled, another Right Whale was discovered already dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This brings the total number of dead whales to 10 within the space of a little over two months: June 7 to date.

Observers are describing this as unprecedented and “catastrophic” and that’s no exaggeration. That’s because this species is Critically Endangered.

In fact, these mammals are just a breath away from extinction.

There are currently just over 500 Right whales left on Earth!

 

The “unprecedented number of right whale deaths is very concerning,” Federal Department of Fisheries.

 

A Bit About Right Whales

Right whales are among the biggest whales on Earth. They are easy to distinguish from other very large whales. They have large, bulbous heads and are usually covered with rough patches of skin.

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Species Profile: The Cuvier’s Beaked Whale

The Cuvier’s Beaked Whale is a truly cosmopolitan mammal known for frequent stranding.

Cuvier's Beaked Whale

Cuvier’s Beaked Whale. (Courtesy: R.W. Baird/Cascadia Research Collective)

The Cuvier’s Beaked Whale is one of the smaller whale species and it’s widely distributed in most oceans and seas worldwide.

Though it’s so widely distributed, it prefers deep waters. As a result, not much is known about it except what researchers can gather by studying stranded individuals. Strangely, this species tends to strand more often than any of the other species of beaked whales.

Like other beaked whales, it has a cigar-shaped body and is often mistaken for other mesoplodont whales (a genus of toothed whales) at sea.

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Whales And The Dangers Of Marine Plastic

Marine Plastic has long been a menace to all sea life: and the situation is getting worse.

Cuvier's Whale And Plastic Trash

Cuvier’s Beaked Whales Are Dying Prematurely From Eating Marine Plastic. (Courtesy: Whaleopedia.org)

In another confirmation of the dangers of marine trash, scientists were shocked to discover a beached Cuvier’s Beaked Whale with more than four kg (9 lbs.) of ingested plastic bags.

The whale was found washed up on a beach on the Isle of Skye, Scotland.

Researchers went into the water to perform an on-the-spot autopsy only to find huge amounts of plastic coiled and tangled up in its stomach and intestines.

The plastic irritated its stomach and intestines and likely led to its death

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Species Profile: The Beluga Whale

The Beluga Whale is one intriguing creature! Though it’s one of the smallest whales, it stands out everywhere.

Closeup Of A Beluga Whale

Closeup Of A Beluga Whale Showing The Round “Melon” On Its Forehead. (Courtesy: premier.gov.ru cc by 4.0)

 

From the very first glance, the Beluga Whale stands out with its stark white color and friendly appearance.

This species is an Arctic and Sub-Arctic cetacean. Often called the white whale, the beluga shares the same family with the narwhal.

Its adaptation to life in the frigid waters of the Arctic means it has evolved several anatomical and physiological characteristics different from other cetaceans. For instance, its body has a high proportion of blubber, it lacks a dorsal fin, and has a stark all-white body color.

Also, its sharp sense of hearing and echolocation enables it move about under ice yet it can quickly find blowholes under the ice covering so it can breathe.

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The Facts About Whale Hunting And Why We Do It

Whale Hunting thrived for many centuries and should have ended completely by now.

A Minke Whale: Facts about Whale HUnting

A MInke Whale: This Is One Of The Species Of Whale That Is Still Hunted To Date. (Courtesy: NOAA/Wiki Commons, P.D.)

Whale hunting or whaling, is the practice of hunting whales for the various products we can get from their bodies.

This may sound like a pretty tame endeavor without too much implications. After all, whales are so large. For instance, the blue whale grows up to almost 100 feet and 200 tons. So, you may assume that killing a few of them may not be too much of a problem.

Well, prepare to be shocked.

Statistics tell us that when whale hunting was at its peak the blue whale, for example, dropped from about 200,000 to just a few thousand individuals. And that’s just for the blue whale.

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