The bowhead whale lives entirely in Arctic or sub-Arctic waters, unlike other whales that will migrate to warmer or cooler waters to mate or reproduce. Their movement patters are therefore dictated by the melting and freezing of the ice. Bowhead whales are capable of breaking through ice at least seven inches thick due to their large bodies and strong skulls. Adult bowheads are entirely black aside from the front part of the lower jaw, which is white and prominently upturned. They can grow up to 60 feet in length while still being able to leap entirely out of the water. Like gray whales, bowhead whales filter food through their mouths via baleen by opening their mouths and straining plankton from the surface, water column, or sea floor.

Research suggests that bowhead whales may be among some of the longest living animals on earth. Based on the recovery of stone harpoon tips from their blubber as well as analysis of their eye tissue, scientists believe that the life-span of a bowhead whale can far exceed 100 years.


  • The only known natural predator to the bowhead whale is a pod of killer whales.
  • A bowhead whale has a life expectancy of about 100 years, but some can last up to 200 years!
  • The bowhead whale is considered to be one of the heaviest animals on earth, only being surpassed by the blue whale.