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They are an extremely robust whale with a double hump profile when seen side on. They have no dorsal fin, broad flippers and a diagnostic “bow” shaped upper jaw. The blowhole features prominently at the top of the head. Their colour is black throughout the body apart from a diagnostic white “bib” on the lower jaw and a grey band before the tail fluke. Their baleen plates are 4 m and are black in colour.
A 6 m v-shaped blow is produced and they fluke before deep dives. Feeding is by a skimming technique. They can break through 20 cm thick ice to create breathing holes.
This rare Arctic vagrant has been confirmed once by IWDG in Irish waters, when a small individual was photographed at the mouth of Carlingford Lough, Co. Louth/Down in May of 2016.