Narwhal

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Narwhal
Size comparison with an average human
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetacea
Suborder: Olphinesa
Family: Monodontidae
Genus: Monodon
Binomial name
Monodon monoceros
Linnaeus, 1758
Narwhals "tusking"

The Narwhal (Monodon monoceros) is a rarely seen Arctic whale.[1] This social whale is known for the very long tooth that males have. Very little is known about this whale. Narwhal means "corpse whale" in Old Norse.[2]

Description[change | change source]

All narwhals have two teeth in their upper jaw. After the first year of a male narwhal's life, its left tooth grows outward, spirally. There are some narwhals that are double-tusked, but they are not as common.[3] This long, single or double tooth projects from its upper jaw and can grow to be 8.75 feet (2.7 meters) long.[4] Tusks are usually twisted in a counterclockwise direction and are hollow inside. The tusk's function is uncertain, perhaps used as a formidable jousting weapon in courtship and dominance rivalry, in getting food, and/or for channeling and amplifying sonar pulses (which they emit).[2][5] The tusk is not used in hunting. Long ago, narwhal sightings probably reinforced (or started) the unicorn legends. In fact, when people found the horn of a dead narwhal washed up on shore, they thought that they had found the horn of a unicorn.[6]

Narwhal can dive deep into the sea to around 800 meters, but can also sometimes dive up to 1,500 meters. This makes them one of the deepest diving sea mammals.

Habitat[change | change source]

Narwhals live in the icy waters of the Arctic seas.[4] They do not go far away from ice. Narwhals are migrating animals who like to move from one place to live in another place for a while.

When it is warm in summer, groups of them move closer to land, where they can sometimes be seen in the estuaries, deep fjords, and bays of Greenland and Northern Canada.

Narwhals live mostly in the solid blue areas of this map, but also live in the striped blue areas.

These groups can be as big as 10 or even as big as 100 sometimes. But when Winter comes around again, they move back to the Icy waters, where they breathe from small holes in the ice. Every so often lucky people get to see them in North-West Russia.

Narwhals can hunt under ice and like to eat Arctic fish such as the flatfish Greenland halibut, the polar and Arctic cod, shrimp and squid. They suck in their prey when they get close.

Narwhals are both hunted by polar bears and killer whales. Sometimes however, even humans hunt Narwhals. The native Inuit people who are sometimes called the Eskimos, are allowed to hunt the Narwhals for food.

The Narwhals blubber keeps it warm in the Antartic Sea's cold water all year long, and during the summer it swims in groups of '10-100' to Northern Canada and Iceland.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Narwhale.org - Tusk Discoveries". http://www.narwhal.org/. Retrieved 2009-12-26.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Heide-Jørgensen, M. P. and K. L. Laidre (2006). Greenland’s Winter Whales: The beluga, the narwhal and the bowhead whale. Ilinniusiorfik Undervisningsmiddelforlag, Nuuk, Greenland. ISBN 978-87-7975-299-3. .
  3. Nicklen, Paul. "Arctic Ivory." National Geographic 212.2 (2007): 110-129. Science & Technology Collection. Web. 8 May 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "National Geographic Society". http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/narwhal.html. Retrieved 2009-12-26.
  5. Silverman, H. B.; M. J. Dunbar (March 1980). "Aggressive tusk use by the narwhal (Monodon monoceros L.)". Nature 284: 56–57. doi:10.1038/284057a0 .
  6. Daston, Lorraine and Katharine Park. Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750. New York: Zone Books, 2001.

Other websites[change | change source]

Pictures[change | change source]