20+ Fun Facts About Narwhals

  1. Narwhal, also called narwhale, is a toothed whale with a unique long protruding tusk. They live in the Arctic waters of Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway.
  2. The scientific name of the narwhal is “Monodon monoceros”. It means “one tooth, one horn.”
  3. The length of narwhals is between 13 and 20 feet. They can weigh up to 1.5 tons. Narwhal tusks can grow up to 10 feet long.
  4. Scientists have collected data from narwhals to study the effects of global warming on the Arctic. For this purpose, they attached sensors to the cartilage and blubber of 14 narwhals between 2005 and 2007. It was helpful to retrieve data on the ocean’s temperature and salinity up to the depth of 1,800 m (6,000 ft.). (Source)
  5. Animals usually flee or freeze while facing humans, and their heart rate changes accordingly. But the heart rate of narwhals has the opposite effect while escaping from humans as it goes extremely low. It shows that human interaction can cause deaths of a large number of narwhals due to their fear. (Source)
  6. Numerous narwhals and beluga whales have lost their lives due to ice entrapment. The most famous incident occurred in 1915 in Disko Bay when more than 1,000 narwhals got trapped under ice. (Source)
  7. The most distinguishing feature of a narwhal is its tusk, an oversized protruding tooth. This tusk contains 10 million nerve endings. Almost all males and a few females possess the tusk. Narwhals cannot chew food with any of its two teeth. Sometimes, both these teeth develop into tusks. (Source)
    A captured male narwhal with visible tusk
    Narwhal's tusk has several features
  8. There is a relation between narwhals’ tusk length and the mass of their testes. It indicates that females consider the length of a tusk to choose their partners. (Source)  
  9. Narwhal’s skin is rich in Vitamin C. The amount of Vitamin C in its skin is equivalent to the amount present in oranges.
  10. Narwhals and beluga whales belong to the same family. A study on a skull has proved that both these whales can interbreed successfully. (Source)
  11. Unlike a large number of beluga whales, there is no narwhal present in captivity. The efforts to keep narwhales in captivity remained unsuccessful. All the captured narwhals died after some time.
  12. Around 40% of body mass in narwhals is composed of blubber. This body fat keeps the mammal warm in freezing water and assists in storing food inside the body.
  13. People in Arctic Canada and Greenland have been consuming narwhals for thousands of years. All parts of narwhals are considered food in Greenland. These include meat, skin, blubber, and inner organs.
  14. Narwhal is one of the deepest diving whales that can dive at a depth of up to 1,800 m. Their dives of 1,500 m or more can last for 25 minutes.
  15. Narwhals usually live in groups of 15 to 20 whales. But bigger groups of up to thousands of narwhals have also been spotted.
  16. There is strong evidence that narwhals produce signature vocalizations. It can assist in individual recognition of every narwhal. (Source)
  17. According to a study, a female narwhal survived for 115 years, the longest among narwhals. Males are larger and heavier than females. (Source)
  18. Research has found that narwhals also use their tusks to capture prey. These mammals use their unique protruding tusks to stun Arctic cod. It assists them in catching these fish. (Source)
  19. The skin color of narwhals changes with age. Babies have blue or grey colors at birth but become whiter as they age. Elder narwhals can be completely white.
  20. Arctic cod, polar cod, Greenland halibut, shrimp, cuttlefish, and squid are the primary food for narwhals. Due to the absence of well-developed teeth, these whales suck their food inside their mouth.
  21. Killer whales are the main predators of narwhals. Polar bears and walruses can also hunt them despite their relatively small size.

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