A 19th-century weapon found in the neck of a 50-ton bowhead whale caught off Alaska shows that cetaceans can live more than 100 years, reports the Associated Press (AP).
The 3 1/2-inch “bomb lance” fragment was found in the whale’s neck blubber and was likely manufactured in New Bedford, Massachusetts, over a century ago.
The whale was killed by indigenous hunters in Alaska last month. Under a monitoring agreement with the International Whaling Commission, native Alaskans are allowed to kill 255 whales over the next five years.
It is notoriously difficult to determine the age of a whale, though experts believe some species may live to be 200 years old, according to the AP article.
Last week the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora rejected an attempt by Japan and Iceland to expand commercial whaling.
Humpback whale in Alaska. Photo by Rhett A. Butler