With an enormous spiralled tusk protruding from their head you’re not going to mistake a male narwhal if you see one, and you won’t be surprised to learn that they’re known as the unicorns of the sea. Narwhals are fond of flatfish, cod, shrimp and squid and species like crab that they find on the seabed during their long dives.  Narwhals are difficult to keep in captivity. Support WDC by shopping for yourself or a friend. The Monodontidae are distinguished by their medium size (at around 4 m (13.1 ft) in length), pronounced melons (round sensory organs), short snouts, and the absence of a true dorsal fin. This strategy focuses on strong site fidelity rather than individual level responses to local prey distribution and this results in focal foraging areas during the winter. , At times, a bull narwhal may rub its tusk with another bull, a display known as "tusking" and thought to maintain social dominance hierarchies. Land in this strip includes Svalbard, Franz Joseph Land, and Severnaya Zemlya. 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. See the movements of tagged narwhals in North Baffin Island, Canada.
These marine mammals are found mainly in the Arctic Ocean – near Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway. Males most commonly have tusks, and some may even have two. Narwhals normally congregate in groups of about five to ten, and sometimes up to 20 individuals outside the summer. The undeveloped right tooth in males and usually both teeth in females remain vestigial.  However, detailed analysis reveals that the tusk is a highly innervated sensory organ with millions of nerve endings connecting seawater stimuli in the external ocean environment with the brain. The leading theory has long been that the narwhal tusk serves as a secondary sex character of males, for nonviolent assessment of hierarchical status on the basis of relative tusk size.  The rubbing of tusks together by male narwhals is thought to be a method of communicating information about characteristics of the water each has traveled through, rather than the previously assumed posturing display of aggressive male-to-male rivalry.
Thousands of years of evolution have prepared Arctic species like the polar bear, walrus and narwhal for life on and around the sea ice.  They are considered to be near threatened and several sub-populations have evidence of decline. The deep-water fish – halibut, redfish (Sebastes marinus), and polar cod (Arctogadus glacialis) – are found in the diet of the males, which means that the narwhals can dive deeper than 500 m (1,640 ft) below sea level. These marine mammals are found mainly in the Arctic Ocean – near Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway. , Narwhals have a relatively restricted and specialized diet. The scientific name is derived from the Greek words for “single-toothed” and “single-horned,” respectively. Ongoing research by WWF collaborators indicates that the tusk has sensory capability, with up to 10 million nerve endings inside. Like the beluga, narwhals are medium-sized whales. These animals only have two canine teeth, one of which is a tusk, so it is unlikely they can capture prey in any other way. The complete skull of an anomalous whale was discovered in West Greenland circa 1990.
Calves are weaned after a year or more; females reach sexual maturity at about six years and males at eight. In some places in Greenland, such as Qaanaaq, traditional hunting methods are used, and whales are harpooned from handmade kayaks. , Medium-sized toothed whale that lives year-round in the Arctic, Upside-down swimming behaviour of narwhals. Females can also grow tusks, albeit shorter than the males. The narwhal was one of many species described by Carl Linnaeus in his publication Systema Naturae in 1758.
Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. Almost all parts of the narwhal, meat, skin, blubber, and organs are consumed. Verne thought that it would be unlikely that there was such a gigantic narwhal in existence. About 1,000 narwhals per year are killed, 600 in Canada and 400 in Greenland. Their natural predators are polar bears, orcas and sharks and they have been hunted by Inuit for their skin, blubber and tusks for centuries.  The northernmost sightings of narwhal have occurred north of Franz Joseph Land, at about 85° North latitude. Females become sexually mature at a younger age, between 5 and 8 years old, when they are around 3.4 m (11.2 ft) long. According to studies, around 90 percent narwhals in the world are found in the Baffin Bay. These sounds are reflected off the sloping front of the skull and focused by the animal's melon, which can be controlled by musculature. We owe this clarification to a provincial wildlife biologist who wrote in to tell The Narwhal that the next survey of the Frog Herd is planned for 2021.  Narwhals' ranges for foraging are believed to be patterns developed early in their life which increase their ability to gain necessary food resources during winter.
These strange and mysterious beings face some serious threats from human activity. Of the gross income, CA$370,000 was for skin and meat, to replace beef, pork and chickens which would otherwise be bought, CA$150,000 was received for tusks, and carved vertebrae and teeth of males, and CA$10,000 was received for carved vertebrae and teeth of females. Predators of the narwhal include killer whales and, to a lesser extent, polar bears and walruses.
In 2017, drone footage revealed narwhals stunning fish with their tusk before eating them. , Major predators are polar bears, which attack at breathing holes mainly for young narwhals, Greenland sharks, and walruses. Narwhals normally congregate in groups of about five to ten, and sometimes up to 20 individuals outside the summer. This is one of the only species that spend their entire life in the arctic.  The last major entrapment events occurred when there was little to no wind. These nerve endings have the ability to detect changes in the chemical composition of the water, including salt concentrations. Narwhals are usually found in groups of 15 to 20, but herds of several thousand have been seen. Daston, Lorraine and Park, Katharine (2001).
, Females start bearing calves when six to eight years old. They hunt and live in these nutrient-rich, cold waters year round. The narwhal’s tusk is actually a tooth with millions of nerve endings inside it, meaning they can use it to ‘feel’ or taste. No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died, Known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalised population, Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the Wild, Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild, Likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future, Does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, or Near Threatened.
A year later, the percentages of both animals in the diet of narwhals had changed. More information is needed to determine the vulnerability of narwhals to sea ice changes.
The longest recorded narwhal dive is 1,500 metres. Corrections? Genetic evidence suggests the porpoises are more closely related to the white whales, and that these two families constitute a separate clade which diverged from the rest of Delphinoidea within the past 11 million years.  In Greenland the skin (muktuk) is sold commercially to fish factories, and in Canada to other communities. These groups can vary in their social structure, from solely females and young, to adolescent males and “bulls.” These adult male bulls will frequently use their tusks to determine social status.
For both sexes, excluding the male's tusk, the total body size can range from 3.95 to 5.5 m (13 to 18 ft); the males are slightly larger than the females.  Most of the world's narwhals are concentrated in the fjords and inlets of Northern Canada and western Greenland.
 In 1555, Olaus Magnus published a drawing of a fish-like creature with a horn on its forehead, correctly identifying it as a "Narwal". In summer months, they move closer to coasts, often in pods of 10–100.
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