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Bowhead Whale Rostrum - 1 - Gåshamna, Hornsund, Svalbard

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The rostrum from a bowhead whale, this piece of bone extends from the top-front of the skull with great plates of baleen (whale bone) hanging from either side making up two sides of a triangle. The rostrums are always found detached from the rest of the skull indicating perhaps that they were cut off for ease of processing. This piece is about 3-4m long.

the holes in the bone are where major blood vessels and/or nerves passed through to supply the skin and muscle.

A large open bay to the south of the Hornsund fjord, Gåshamna is the site of whaling activity from the 1600 to 1700's. In these times bowhead and right whales were the target species as they were slow swimming and relatively easy to catch, they yielded large quantities of oil and of whale bone (baleen). The faster swimming rorquals such as blue, fin and minke whales wouldn't be in the whalers sights for another two hundred years.

These remains are left behind by English whalers of this era.


76° 56.7' N, 15° 49.9' E

Picture copyright Paul Ward

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