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British Wildlife is the leading natural history magazine in the UK, providing essential reading for both enthusiast and professional naturalists and wildlife conservationists. Published eight times a year, British Wildlife bridges the gap between popular writing and scientific literature through a combination of long-form articles, regular columns and reports, book reviews and letters.

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Academic & Professional Books  Mammals  Marine Mammals  Whales & Dolphins (Cetacea)

The Bowhead Whale Balaena mysticetus Biology and Human Interactions

By: JC George(Editor), JGM Thewissen(Editor)
640 pages, colour photos, colour illustrations
Publisher: Academic Press
The first book dedicated to the bowhead whale in nearly three decades, this edited collection gives an overview of our current state of knowledge.
The Bowhead Whale Balaena mysticetus
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  • The Bowhead Whale Balaena mysticetus ISBN: 9780128189696 Hardback Sep 2020 In stock
Price: £91.95
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

The Bowhead Whale, Balaena mysticetus: Biology and Human Interactions covers bowhead biology from anatomy and behaviour, to conservation, distribution, and ecology and evolution. It also discusses the biological and physical aspects of the Arctic ecosystem in which these whales live, with careful attention paid to the dramatic changes that are taking place. A special section of The Bowhead Whale describes the interactions of humans with bowheads in past and present, with a focus on their importance to Indigenous communities as well as challenges such as entanglement in fishing gear, industrial noise, and ship strikes. The Bowhead Whale brings together the knowledge of bowheads in one place, for easy reference for scientists that study the species, marine mammal biologists, but, equally important, for everyone who is interested in the Arctic.

Bowheads live in the Arctic, give birth in ice-choked waters, live up to 200 years, and have the thickest blubber and longest baleen of any whale species. The males sing complex songs, and, though they eat tiny prey, are among the largest animals on the planet. After near extinction of all four populations of bowheads due to 400 years of hunting by European and American whalers, two populations have recovered. They are a conservation success story resulting from a productive collaboration of Indigenous communities, government agencies, scientists, and conservation organizations.


Section I: Basic Biology
1. Higher Phylogeny of Baleen Whales
2. Fossil History of the Balaenidae
3. The Stocks of Bowheads
4. Bowhead Whale Abundance
5. Growth and Form
6. Embryology and Gestation
7. Skull Anatomy
8. Skeletal Anatomy
9. Anatomy and Physiology of the Muscular System
10. Anatomy and Physiology of the Gastro-Intestinal System
11. Anatomy and Physiology of the Reproductive System
12. Anatomy and Function of Feeding
13. Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Systems
14. Brain and Peripheral Nervous System
15. Sensory Systems
16. Endocrinology, Thermoregulation, and Blubber Physiology
17. Proteomics and Gene Expression
18. Age Determination
19. Sound Production and Reception
20. Behavior
21. Life History
22. Arctic Ocean Physiological Adaptations

Section II: The Bowhead Ecosystem
23. Physical Oceanography of the Bowhead Habitat
24. Global Change Affecting the Bowhead Ecosystem
25. Bowhead Prey
26. Feeding Ecology
27. Bowhead Predators
28. Parasites and Commensals
29. Diseases
30. Ice Entrapment and Other Mortality

Section III: Interactions with Humans
31. European and Yankee Whaling of Bowheads
32. History of Inupiat and Chukchi Whaling of Bowheads
33. Current Native Whaling of Bowheads
34. Bowheads and Bowhead Whaling in Inupiat Culture
35. Inupiat Traditional Knowledge and Science
36. Noise Affecting Bowheads
37. Entanglement and Ship Strikes
38. Contaminants
39. Future of Management and Conservation

Customer Reviews


John Craighead ‘Craig’ George PhD is a wildlife biologist who has lived in the Arctic and studied bowhead whales for 40 years. He has published more than 50 scientific papers on the species, on topics ranging from their physiology and reproduction, to their migratory pathways, and their behaviour. He is a leading specialist on issues relating to conservation and management of bowhead populations and has served as a member of the US delegation of the International Whaling Commission. He is keenly involved in issues related to subsistence hunting of whales by Indigenous peoples, and the traditional knowledge that these cultures have of whale biology.

J. G. M. ‘Hans’ Thewissen studies the evolution, anatomy and embryology of marine mammals, and has travelled the world to study fossil and living whales. His work with the sense organs of modern whales explores the impact of global change on marine mammal populations. He co-edited the three editions of Elsevier’s Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals and wrote a popular book on whale evolution: The Walking Whales.

By: JC George(Editor), JGM Thewissen(Editor)
640 pages, colour photos, colour illustrations
Publisher: Academic Press
The first book dedicated to the bowhead whale in nearly three decades, this edited collection gives an overview of our current state of knowledge.
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