Creature Feature – Narwhal
This week on Creature Feature Friday we take a look at the Narwhal.
Dubbed the unicorn of the sea, narwhals are medium-sized toothed whales found only in Arctic waters. Unlike other toothed whales, they do not have any teeth in their mouth, instead they have a protruding tusk (or two!). Females almost never have a tusk.
Scientific Name: Monodon monoceros
© Paul Nicklen
Narwhal Fact File
Size: Individuals can grow over 5m long and weigh up to 2000kg
Distribution: Narwhals are only found in the Arctic waters around Greenland, Canada, Norway, and Russia
Diet: The primary prey of narwhals include Greenland halibut, polar and Arctic cod, shrimp, and Gonatus squid
Behaviour: Narwhals are related to bottlenose dolphins, belugas, harbour porpoises, and orcas. Like some other porpoises, they travel in groups and feed on fish, shrimp, squid, and other aquatic fare. Whilst scientists are not exactly sure why the species has tusks, they are a useful tool for their environment
IUCN Status: Least Concern. Whales, like the narwhal, are at the top of the food chain and have an important role in the overall health of the marine environment. Similar to polar bears, the narwhal depends on sea ice for its existence and can be directly impacted by climate change. Other threats include noise pollution and oil/gas development