Eureka! A Roaming Bowhead Whale

Publication: The New York Times' Green Blog

Author: Joanna M. Foster


06/22/2011 - Balaena mysticetus is her formal name, but you can call her bowhead. She’s about the length of two big yellow school buses parked end to end and a bit on the heavy side, around 100 tons with a two-foot-thick layer of blubber. Bowhead is hardly an accidental nickname, as her head makes up a third of of her total body length and her mouth is the largest of any whale species, big enough for a tongue weighing nearly one ton.

Outi Tervo, one of two marine biologists on a monthlong marine expedition studying whale migrations, couldn’t have been more delighted to see her. Sailing on the Arctic Endeavor, its narrow research vessel, the team spotted its first whale around midnight last Friday off the western coast of Greenland. The group was able to both snap photos of the surfacing giant and record the whale’s underwater murmurings.

Since that sighting, the team’s members have made a half dozen more recordings of bowhead whales migrating northward, although they have not actually seen another whale since. “Anything we can collect is still more than we’ve ever had before for this population,” Ms. Tervo said. (The whales have not previously been tracked by a research vessel during their migration along the coast.)

Read the full blog post Eureka! A Roaming Bowhead Whale on The New York Times' Web site.

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