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Bowhead Whale

Alaska State Marine Mammal

Fluke of bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) official marine mammal symbol of Alaska. Photo by Ansgar Walk / Wikipedia (use permitted with attribution/share alike).

Official Marine Mammal of Alaska

The Bowhead whale was designated Alaska's official state marine mammal in 1983. All State Mammals

Bowhead Whale Facts

Bowhead whales are making a slow and precarious recovery after being hunted nearly to extinction. The bowhead whale is classified as endangered and has been protected by the International Whaling Commission since 1937. This large whale with thick blubber is still very important to Eskimo subsistence hunters and coastal villages in Alaska. There are an estimated 8,000 bowhead whales in existence today.

The Bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) consumes mostly zooplankton, but many other organisms and fish are engulfed as the animal cruises along collecting food in its open mouth. The Bowhead whale swims slowly - often solitary and near shore. Bowheads are filter feeders with long, fine baleen plates (comblike structures suspended from the roof of their mouth which measure up to 4 meters in length).

Bowhead whales inhabit the Arctic waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans (also called northern right whale and Greenland right whale). They grow up to 20 meters in length, the head making up one third of the body. There are several distinct sub - populations of bowhead whales with different migration routes.