The narwhal, or narwhale (Monodon monoceros), is a medium-sized toothed whale with a large “tusk” made from a canine tooth that sticks out. It stays in the waters around Greenland, Canada, and Russia all year long. It is one of two whales in the family Monodontidae that are still alive. The other is the beluga whale.
Male narwhals have a long, straight, helically shaped tusk that looks like an elongated upper left canine. Carl Linnaeus wrote about many different species in his book Systema Naturae, which came out in 1758. Narwhals & belugas are the same in size. Without the male’s tusk, the size of the whole body can range from 3.95 to 5.5 m (13 to 18 ft) for both males and females.
The males are slightly bigger than the females. An adult narwhal usually weighs between 800 kg and 1600 kg (1,760 to 3,530 lb). Males mature between the ages of 11 and 13, while females do so between the ages of 5 and 8. Narwhals don’t have a dorsal fin, and their neck vertebrae are not fused together like those of dolphins and most whales. Instead, they are joined together like those of most other mammals.
Distribution: Where Are Narwhals Found?
Narwhals can be found in the waters of the Arctic and the North Atlantic Ocean. Most of them live in Greenland and the Canadian Arctic Ocean to the east. Narwhals move with the seasons and always return to their favorite, ice-free summering grounds, usually in shallow water.
During the summer, pods of 10–100 of them move closer to the coasts. In the winter, they move to deeper waters farther out to sea, under thick pack ice, and come up through narrow cracks in the sea ice called “leads.” When spring comes, these paths become channels, and the narwhals swim back to the bays along the coast.
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Narwhals are social and usually live in pods of 3 to 20 animals, though most pods have between 3 and 8 animals. These groups are often divided by gender, and “bachelor” groups of males are common. During the summer, several groups get together to make larger gatherings with 500 to more than 1000 individuals.
Some of the time, a bull narwhal will rub its tusk against another bull. This is called “tusking,” and it is thought to keep social dominance hierarchies in place. Norwhal spends the whole year near pack ice. With thrusts of their thick heads, sometimes several of them at once, they make holes in sheets of ice so they can breathe.
Narwhals are thought to eat by swimming toward their prey until it is close and then sucking it with a lot of force into their mouths. This is because they don’t have many teeth. The unique tusk is used to tap on small prey and stun it, making it easier to catch. Narwhals are very talkative. As they move, they squeak and click. Like many other cetaceans, narwhals raise their heads and tusks out of the water by slapping their flippers on the water as they come up for air.
Diet: What Do Narwhals Eat?
Narwhals are meat-eaters (piscivores). Greenland halibut, cuttlefish, shrimp, arm hook squid, polar and Arctic cod are some of the things they eat. They will also eat eggs of wolffish, capelin, and skate.
Narwhals are polygynous, which means that an adult male will mate with more than one female during the same mating season. Most mating takes place between March and May when the males try to attract the females and compete with each other. The pregnancy lasts about 15 months, and the calves are born in July or August of the following year.
Narwhals only have one calf, which is born in the tail first. Males don’t get their tusks until they are weaned, which happens when they are about a year old. Narwhals can swim soon after they are born. Every three years, a woman will give birth. Males mature sexually between the ages of 8 and 10, while females do so between the ages of 4 and 7 years.
Population: How Many Narwhals Are There?
Narwhals are hunted for their meat, “maktaq” skin, and ivory tusks, which are sold as souvenirs or used to make carvings. They are affected by both short-term and long-term changes in the weather. As pack ice melts, their range shrinks.
They have gotten stuck under the ice that forms too fast for them to make a hole to breathe through. Under the water, noise pollution is caused by industrial activities, marine construction, shipping, and military activities. Since narwhals use sound to communicate, noise pollution could make it harder for them to find food and mates, avoid predators, and take care of their young.
According to the IUCN Red List, there are about 80,000 narwhals in the world. This number includes estimates for this species in different areas: 70,000 in the Canadian High Arctic, 3,500 in the northern Hudson Bay, over 2,000 in West Greenland, and less than 1,000 in East Greenland. On the IUCN Red List, the number of narwhals is listed as Near Threatened (NT).
Narwhals are at the top of the food chain, and how they control the populations of the animals they eat is important to the health of the ocean.
1. They Are Deep Divers
These whales have been shown to dive to depths of over a mile. They have a maximum depth capability of 1,500 meters (4,500 feet) and a maximum dive time of roughly 25 minutes. Narwhals can spend almost three hours submerged at depths 800 meters or more daily.
2. Narwhal Lack A Dorsal Fin
The narwhal, like other Arctic whales such as the bowhead and beluga, lacks a dorsal fin. As with other Arctic whales, the narwhal’s lack of a dorsal fin helps it conserve heat by lowering its overall surface area, making it possible for it to navigate beneath the floating ice.
3. Are Narwhals Endangered?
This species could become threatened or endangered because of its biology and the threats that have been found.
4. the Canadian Arctic Is Home To 75% Of Narwhals.
It is estimated that there are 80,000 narwhals in the wild, with the majority spending the summer in the Canadian Arctic. Canada is home to two distinct narwhal populations, one in the Baffin Bay and another in Hudson Bay.
5. Arctic Waters Are Their Home.
Unlike several other whale species, Narwhals don’t travel far beyond the Arctic waters of Canada, Greenland, Norway, or Russia to live out their lives.
6. Their Tusks Are Teeth
They have millions of nerve endings, making narwhal tusks an extremely sensitive organ. The discovery that narwhals use their tusks for feeding adds to the theory that rubbing tusks together is a form of communication.
7. Male Narwhals Have Tusks.
The extended tusk is mostly a male narwhal trait. Females have only sometimes been seen in company with them.
8. A Narwhal Can Live Up To 50 Years.
Although narwhals typically only live to be 30–40 years old, there have been reports of individuals living to be 50 years old.
9. Age Affects Narwhal Colour.
Blue-grey spots can be seen on newborn narwhals, black spots on adolescents, grey spots on adults, and nearly white spots on elderly narwhals.
10. Tusks Can Grow To Be Up To 10 Feet Long.
The protruding tooth develops into a tusk that can reach a length of up to 10 feet and has a spiral shape. While the left protrusion is the one most people notice, some narwhals actually have two tusks, one on each side.
Are Narwhals Real
The existence of narwhals is not a myth. True narwhals, or Monodon monoceros, are toothed whales with a massive incisor tusk. Arctic waters of Greenland, Canada, and Russia are home to the Monodontidae family, which includes the narwhal. Pods of up to twenty of them can often be spotted swimming together.
Human activities and climate change have put the world’s 80,000 narwhals in danger of extinction. Without concerted action to protect the species on a worldwide scale, its survival is in jeopardy.
What Is A Narwhal
The narwhal, or narwhale, is a medium-sized toothed whale distinguished by the huge “tusk” formed by a projecting canine tooth. The Arctic waters of Greenland, Canada, and Russia are home to this animal all year long. It shares the Monodontidae family with the beluga whale, the only other extant member of that group.
What Do Narwhals Eat
Greenland halibut, Arctic cod, polar cod, squid, shrimp, and other seafood make up the bulk of a narwhal’s diet. They gnaw on the floe’s edge and in the ice-free summer waters.
Where Do Narwhals Live
The narwhal is the only whale that stays put in the Arctic Ocean during its whole life, never leaving Canada, Greenland, Norway, or Russia. The Baffin Bay–Davis Strait region is where narwhals spend the majority of their winters.
Are Narwhals Extinct
Even though narwhals have not yet gone extinct, their current conservation status is “near threatened.” That’s why experts in the field of conservation worry that narwhals might soon vanish forever. With its long, twisting tusk, the narwhal seems like it could be a cross between a whale and a unicorn.
Do Narwhals Still Exist Today?
The narwhal is not yet extinct, but it is considered to be in a “near threatened” state by the international conservation community.
How Many Narwhals Are Left?
It is not likely that narwhals will become extinct anytime soon, considering there are likely more than 100,000 of them still in existence.
What Does A Narwhal Get Eaten By?
The narwhal’s large size makes it vulnerable to only a handful of predators in the wild. Larger whales, sharks, and people are the principal predators this species faces in the wild.
Is A Narwhal A Dolphin?
The narwhal is a medium-sized, toothed whale only found in the icy waters of the Arctic.
Do Narwhals Count As Unicorns?
The large tusks on the narwhal’s heads have earned them the nickname “unicorns” of the sea. Over 80,000 strong, this population has the potential to reach 17 feet in length and 4,200 pounds in weight. Continue reading to find out more interesting facts about these creatures.
What Animals Eat Narwhals?
At least one Greenland shark has been caught with narwhal remnants in its stomach, though it is unknown if it hunted or scavenged that meal. Killer whales and polar bears have also been known to assault and devour narwhals.
Are Narwhals Real Or Mythical?
They inspire stories of elusive and magical polar unicorns because of their mystery and rarity. Many individuals continue to refuse to believe that Narwhals are genuine mammals. Since so much remains unknown, they are frequently referred to as legendary monsters.
Parvaiz Yousuf is a senior SEO writer and editor with an experience of over 6 years, who also doubles up as a researcher. With an MSc zoology degree under his belt and possessing complete Search Engine Optimization (SEO) knowledge, he works as a science journalist for a US-based website and Asian Scientist (A Singapore-based magazine). He also works as Director of Wetland Research Centre, Wildlife Conservation Fund YPJK since 2018. Besides, he has several publications to his name on cancer biology and biochemistry in some reputed journals such as Nature & International Journal of Molecular Sciences, & magazines such as Science Reporter, BUCEROS BNHS, and has an abiding interest in ornithology. He also worked as a Research Associate for JK Policy Institute.