Why They Matter
Whales are at the top of the food chain and have an important role in the overall health of the marine environment. The bowhead whale’s conservation status is listed as “least concern” overall, but some populations (such as near Greenland) are endangered. They have traditionally been hunted by commercial whalers until the last century for oil, meat, and baleen. Today, native communities in both the U.S. and Russia hunt bowheads for subsistence purposes. This subsistence whaling is approved and its sustainability is ensured by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).