10 Facts about Narwhals
1. Narwhal Tusks Are Irreplaceable
If a narwhal has the misfortune to lose his tusk, the tusk will never grow back. Whether this was due to poaching or an accident, the loss of a tusk will undoubtedly negatively impact the narwhal for the of its rest of its life.
2. Narwhals Are Unique Swimmers
Often called ‘corpse whales’, narwhals are known for taking long breaks in between strokes, during which they simply lie motionless. Furthermore, narwhals tend to swim upside down, making the name ‘corpse whale’ even more appropriate.
3. Narwhal Whistles Are Deafening
While the efficient communication system mentioned earlier is essential for narwhal’s to coordinate, actually hearing this system in use without protection can leave most human’s deaf. Even outside the pod, the constant squeals and whistles narwhals produce are so loud they would leave irreversible damage.
4. Narwhals Are Rare
Because narwhals are only naturally found in the far reaches of the Arctic Ocean, they can be quite hard to find in the wild. Currently, an estimated 45,000 narwhal still exist outside of captivity.
5. Narwhals Are Near Threatened
According to the IUCN, the body that determines the level of endangerment facing each species, the narwhal is classified as near threatened, meaning it will likely be reclassified as a threatened in the next several years. This is due in large part to poaching and climate change.
6. Narwhal Tusks Are Luxury Items
While it is illegal to hunt narwhals in nearly all the countries one can naturally find them in, poaching of narwhals is still widespread and a serious threat to the narwhal community. Poaching typically occurs to harvest the narwhal’s tusk, which can get prices of up $30,000.
7. Narwhal Tusks Are Actually Teeth
The narwhal’s most distinctive feature, the tusk, has long been a source of contention about these stunning creatures. Recent studies have shown, however, that the tusk is actually a large tooth which punctures the upper lip of the narwhal to extend forward.
8. Narwhals Are Advanced Communicators
Besides visual cues when moving together, narwhals are also able to communicate amongst themselves using a variety of squeals and clicks. Through this system, the narwhal pods are able to coordinate destinations and threats amongst themselves.
9. Narwhals Are Found in Large Groups
Narwhals, like many ocean roaming creatures, tend to prefer to travel in groups rather than individually. These wandering pods typically contain anywhere from 10-20 narwhals, but have been known to reach much larger sizes of up to 100.
10. Narwhal Females Are Capable of Growing Tusks
For quite awhile, it was believed only male narwhals grew tusks. Most scientists today attribute the existence of the tusk to its relation to mating rituals, making it virtually useless for narwhals. However, certain birth conditions in female narwhals can lead to the development of a small tusk, though it will never be as prominent as a male’s.