Narwhal Whale (Monodon monoceros)
The narwhals are usually in pods of about 10 up to 100 whales that swim solely in the Arctic waters. The name Narwhal means corpse whale because it often swims belly up, laying motionless for several minutes. Narwhals usually take their time going places, slowly breathing and rolling, but when chased, they are remarkably quick. Sometimes they travel in small family groups, in these groups they communicate by means of a great variety of squeals, trills, whistles, and clicks. If you were in the middle of a pod you would find out that the sound is deafening.
The male narwhal sometimes duel in the summer feeding ground, crossing tusks in a friendly manner. Nobody knows why narwhals dual, it might be to scratch an itch, (the base of the tusk is usually infected with lice) or this tusk crossing might be a greeting, no one knows for sure.
Contrasted with the huge tusk are two round little eyes and a small, turned up mouth located just below the large tusk. Instead of a dorsal fin. The narwhal has a low, bumpy ridge that begins in the middle of his back and goes to the flukes. The biggest narwhal ever found weighed 3,500 pounds. They are shaped like a beluga and have about four inches of fat to insulate them from the cold Arctic waters.
Just about everything about the narwhal is a mystery even what they eat. Scientists have gotten a clue to their diet since they have been able to examine the contents of their stomachs. The most common thing they found is squid, occasionally they have seen flatfish and Greenland halibut. How the narwhal catches their prey nobody really knows. Some scientist think that the narwhal makes a real loud sound and stuns its prey. But they do know that the long tusk is not used in hunting.
Characteristics and Physical Features of the Narwhal
Length: 10-20 ft.
Distinguishing Characteristics: 9 foot long ivory tusk.
Range: West Greenland to Mid-eastern Canada.
Diet: Squid and flatfish.
What is the most striking feature of the narwhal?
The ivory tusk protruding from a tooth socket is the most distinctive feature of the narwhal. This tusk is actually a tooth that grew out, it varies in length but can reach nine feet in size. Embedded 15 inches into the head of the whale, the tusk is straight as an arrow, spiraled up to five inches from the tip where it is polished and smooth.
Why is the narwhal called The Unicorn of the Sea?
The narwhals long spirally tusk earned it that title because it has the appearance of the legendary unicorn.
How does the narwhal hear?
Like many other marine mammals the narwhal uses its forehead sense of echo location to find things. It also uses this part of the forehead to feel sound waves as they bounce through the water.
In a race between a narwhal and a killer whale (Orca) who would win?
The narwhal would win. However, when the narwhal is caught unawares the killer whale will win. The orca would over take the narwhal and ram it head on, knocking it unconscious. Where upon the killer whale will eat the narwhal.
Where do narwhals go to retreat?
When orcas are hunting, they cant see the narwhals so they have to use echo location to find them. The narwhals retreat to shallow water, the orcas echo location gets all mixed up in shallow water and they cant find the narwhals.
Has a narwhal ever attacked a person?
No. However, if by chance you see one, you best leave it alone.
How do arctic people benefit from the narwhal?
In some times and areas, there people entire existence depended on them. They burn the oil because it is good quality and doesnt smoke. They feed the meat to their sled dogs while they eat the skin which tastes like seafood and is high in vitamin C. In the past the tusk has been used for tools, but now it can be sold for up to $4,500. It is illegal to import whale products into the United States so the tusks are often sold to Eurasian countries.
Written by Aaron