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In Search of the Bowhead Whale

In Search of the Bowhead Whale

| 49 min

This adventure film features Scott McVay, an authority on whales, and filmmaker Bill Mason. The objective was to film the bowhead, a magnificent inhabitant of the cold Arctic seas brought to the edge of extinction by overfishing. With helicopter and Inuit guide, aqualungs and underwater cameras, the expedition searches out and meets the bowhead and beluga.

Please note that this is an archival film that makes use of the word “Eskimo,” an outdated and offensive term. While the origin of the word is a matter of some contention, it is no longer used in Canada. The term was formally rejected by the Inuit Circumpolar Council in 1980 and has subsequently not been in use at the NFB for decades. This film is therefore a time-capsule of a bygone era, presented in its original version. The NFB apologizes for the offence caused.

  • director
    Bill Mason
  • commentary
    Bill Mason
  • editing
    Bill Mason
  • producer
    William Brind
  • executive producer
    Colin Low
  • camera
    Bill Mason
    Joseph MacInnis
    Rick Mason
  • sound
    Chester Beachell
  • sound editing
    Ken Page
  • music
    Edward Kalehoff
  • music editing
    Donald Douglas
  • music recording
    Roger Lamoureux
  • re-recording
    Michel Descombes


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Ages 12 to 17

Geography - Environmental Issues
Geography - The Arctic
Science - Biology
Science - Life Systems/Ecology
Social Studies - Contemporary Issues

Brainstorm reasons why scientists are interested in observing the Alaskan whales. Have students comment on the factor(s) that have nearly made the bowhead whales extinct. How do films such as this help protect endangered species? Was there an element of the film that you found particularly interesting? Discuss the importance of preserving all wildlife species.

In Search of the Bowhead Whale
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