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National Marine Conservation Areas of Canada

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Canada’s National Marine Conservation Areas System Plan

Bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus)

Bowhead whale © Parks Canada / Dorothea Kappler, 1995

Named for the shape of its strongly curved lower jaw which resembles an archer's bow, bowhead whales spend their lives at the edge of the Arctic pack ice. Slow moving and unaggressive, the bowhead was hunted almost to extinction in the early part of this century for its oil and baleen, used to make corsets, umbrella ribs, fishing rods and buggy whips. About 5000 remain in the western Arctic, while less than 500 are found in the eastern Arctic.

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