bowhead and beluga
a bowhead whale and two beluga whales

The bowhead stays in the icy Arctic waters. How can it survive in the icy water? It has thick layers of fat (blubber) over its body.

The bowhead became endangered because whale hunters wanted the oil and whalebone from this whale's body. Laws now protect the bowhead from being hunted.

The unusual mouth shaped like a bow is what gives this whale its name. The head and body are black with white under the lower jaw. There are some white spots on the stomach. Bowheads produce double, V-shaped spouts.

The female has a baby calf every 3 to 6 years. The calf is bluish grey at birth, then turns bluish black, then the same color as the adults

The bowhead feeds on krill and other small sea creatures through baleen plates that filter out the sea creatures from the water.

Orcas and humans are their enemies.

Beluga means "white one" in Russian. The beluga was called a "sea canary" because of all the sounds that it makes. (clicks, squeaks, whistles, clucks, clicks, chirps and trills ). Because of its curved mouth people think it is always smiling. Adults are white in color. The young are gray so they can't be easily seen by their enemy, the killer whale.

They travel together in groups called pods (or schools). Belugas feed on fish ( herring, cod ), squid, ocotopus and other sea creatures.

Belugas have large foreheads, no beak,
and no dorsal fin ( fin on its back).

The narwhal (NAWR-hwal) lives in the cold deep water of the Arctic Ocean . Most narwhals have gray backs, spotted gray and white sides and are whitish underneath.

The male has a long tusk (tooth) sticking out from the left side of the upper jaw. Females do not have a tusk.

Narwhals eat fish, shrimp, crabs and other small sea creatures. People once thought that the tusk was for spearing food.

The narwhal was sometimes called
a sea-unicorn because of its tusk.
It is threatened by overhunting
for its tusk and its meat.
Enemies of the narwhal are polar bears, man and killer whales. Ice is the worst enemy. Sometimes the narwhal becomes trapped under the ice that forms at the surface. Without air they drown. When several narwhals get together, they can break through the ice with their foreheads


J.Giannetta 2000
updated August 2011