Narwhal : The Unicorn in the Ocean

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Photo credit : [IG]@paulnicklen

 

Narwhals are the unicorn of the sea. If you are a unicorn lover, then you may have heard about the Narwhal. They are frequently seen around Canada, Russia, and Greenland. Narwhale mainly lives in the arctic water and is one of the two living species of the Monodontidae family of whales. It is a warm-blooded and air-breathing mammal.

Narwhal is famous for the long ivory tusk it has. It is spiraled clockwise. This tusk is a canine tooth of the Narwhal. It contains millions of nerve endings that help them to locate food.

Facts about Narwhal

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The scientific name is Manodan monoceros. The male animal weighs up to 1900 kg while the female is 1550 kg. The male Narwhal is 5.4 m long. You will find females long up to 5 m long.  The population of Narwhal is about 170 000. They eat Arctic cod, squids, shrimps, Greenland habitat, and polar cod.

Interesting Facts about Narwhal

The meaning of Narwhal in Latin

The word Narwhale refers to “one-tooth-one-horn” in Latin. The name and the meaning are highly compatible with the appearance of the animal.

Narwhale has the same size as a belguna whale

The size of the narwhal is similar to the size of a Belguna Whale.

Narwhal spent their whole life in Arctic waters

Some whale species migrate to a different location. But Narwhal never changes their locations. They live in the Arctic waters.

Narwhal can live 50 years

Narwhals have an average life span of 30-40 years. But the reports prove that they can live for 50 years.

Tusks can grow up to 10 ft

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Narwhal is famous for its tusks. It is an elongated tooth that grows into a spiral long tusk. The amazing fact is; it can grow up to 10 ft. Have you seen a narwhal of two trunks? Don’t think that they have a kind of deficiency or any other problem. Narwhals get two trunks due to the development of the right tusk. Then they get two trunks as left and right.

The distinctive tusk is common among male

The trunk is developed among the male Narwhal. It is very rare to see a female Narwhal with an elongated tusk.

Narwhal uses tusk for hunting

Narwhal has gained popularity due to its ivory tusk. The researchers have captured that Narwhal uses the tusk to hunt fish. They flick the tusk and stun the prey instead of stabbing them.

Narwhal changes color with time

Most of the animals can’t change their color with the age. But Narwhal can do it. They were born in speckled blue-grey color. The teenage animals are blue-black while adults are speckled grey. You can easily identify old narwhals as they are white in color. The animal world is full of marvelous creations. Narwhal is one such amazing creature living in the water.

Females give birth to a calf once every 3 years

The pregnancy of a female Narwhal lasts for about 14 months. They often give birth to calves in the spring. As Narwhals are mammals, they have milk for the newborns. The babies depend on milk for about 20 months.

Narwhals are one of the deepest diving animals in the world

Narwhals can dive up to 1.1 miles in depth. It can remain inside for about 25 minutes without breathing. The male Narwhals record the deepest dives during the winter months. Their dives are virtually vertical and have maximum speed.

Narwhals can withstand incredible water pressure

The compressible rib cage makes Narwhals talented swimmers. It can be squeezed without harming the body. Narwhals have a high concentration of oxygen-binding myoglobin in their muscles. It allows them to swim at 1 meter per second underwater for about 20 minutes without breathing.

What is the importance of Narwhals?

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Mother nature never makes a creation without any reason. Narwhal is also a marvelous creation of nature. Narwhals are types of whales that help for the balance of the food chains. They lay at the top of the food chains. They play an important role in protecting the overall health of marine life. Narwhals are also important for the survival of indigenous communities in the Arctic-like Polar Bears.

Narwhals are regarded as iconic and culturally significant animals in the North.

What are the threats that narwhals undergo?

Narwhals are living in the animals. So they also undergo the threats that other sea animals face. Oil and gas developments and climatic changes are the major threats faced by the Narwhals. Sometimes these ships contain hazardous chemicals that can kill lots of sea animals at a time. An increase in the number of ships means an increase in the threats for narwhal. The collisions and sounds interfere with the communication among whales.

Let’s check out the threats for Narwhal in detail.

Shipping and underwater noise

It was found that Narwhals move away from feeding and calving areas when large vessels move on. Whales communicate with sounds. So noises can badly affect their living patterns. Narwhals will find it difficult to find food, avoid predators, navigate, and take care of their young ones.

Climate changes

Climatic changes have a great impact on the lives of Narwhals badly. The Canadian Arctic is subjected to warming three times compared to the rest of the world. It puts the lives of Narwhale in danger as they are ice-dependent species. The whole life of a Narwhal is connected with sea ice.  Sea ice acts as a habitat and place to find food. Narwhals consider ice as a place to hide from predators.

Oil and gas development

Oil and gas development is a huge threat to Narwhal. The noises of the ship cause more pollution and make underwater noises. The rate of oil and fuel spills is high due to the increase of shipping vessels.

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To Sum Up

Narwhals are a resource to the Earth. They help to maintain the balance of the environment. It is our paramount duty to protect Narwhales. Human activities directly affect climatic changes. If we can avoid the harmful activities of mother nature, then these valuable animals will be protected for centuries.

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