This predominantly Arctic species is associated with ice floes. Its movement patterns are therefore influenced by the melting and freezing of the ice. The bowhead has suffered from severe over-exploitation that has seen its range shrink considerably since the 17th century.
VIDEO: Drone footage reveals rarely seen bowhead whales in the Arctic
Rare drone footage of one of Canada’s largest marine mammals is now available, and will help both researchers and the public get a closer look at this magnificent Arctic species.Read more
- common names
Bowhead Whale, Greenland Right Whale
- scientific name
Least concern, but variation among populations (IUCN)
Threats to bowheads
As the rapidly warming Arctic sees thinner and less sea-ice, with longer open water periods in summer, a number of new threats have quickly emerged – more killer whales, and more oil and gas exploration and development, more commercial shipping plans, and more commercial fishing activity.
Arctic researchers have attached satellite radio transmitters to a sample of bowheads in order to better understand seasonal movements and habitat use of these whales.
This information can be used to help plan for human activities (like shipping) in these sensitive, quiet Arctic waters – the bowheads' home – and in all decisions regarding the future of Arctic marine systems facing rapid climate and economic change.
How we work
The narwhal is famous for the long ivory tusk which spirals counter-clockwise several feet forward from its upper lip. The tusk is actually the whale's upper left canine tooth. Male narwhals commonly have a single tusk, but they sometimes have two tusks, or none at all. Around 15% of females have a tusk.
Arctic caribou and wild reindeer are truly circumpolar animals, linking regions and people around the globe.