|The remains of a bowhead
whale skull, more specifically the rostrum.
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 straight end indicates that
is was sawn off.
like many of the other large whale bone remains in
this area, it has a lush growth of mosses on and
around it. This is a result of the nutrients
supplied by the bone as it decayed, the surrounding
ground by comparison is bare and sterile. The most
amazing thing about this is that over 350 years
after being left in this position, the minerals that
leached out of the bone are still having a
significant localized effect on plant growth. A
vivid example of recycling on the small scale.
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
76° 56.7' N, 15°
copyright Paul Ward