Narwhal / Monodon monoceros

By: Audrey Tagaras and Bryce Osborne

Brief Summary

Often called the unicorn of the sea, Narwhal are strange and beautiful creatures with long tusks protruding from their heads. Their population is more than 80,000. Each can weigh up to 4,200 pounds and can grow as long as 17 feet. Narwhals are found in Arctic waters near Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia. Because of the cold winters they can spend 5 months under sea ice.

Physical Attributes

The horn on the Narwhals head is actually an enlarged tooth (7-10 feet) found on most males, they can even have two. Narwhals coloring changes as they grow starting as a blue-gray turning to a mottled gray and the oldest are nearly all white.

Narwhals can make dives of up to 5,000 feet for 25 minutes or more.

Communication

Narwhal communicate through high-pitched clicks, whistles, squeaks, and bangs. Not much is known about the meaning of the vocals. In addition to communication, whales use these sounds for echolocations. Narwhal travel in pods of 10 to 20 members, they use these sounds to keep track of the members.

Facts

-Narwhals eat small fish, shrimp, squid and other small marine animals. They use echolocation to help them find food.
-Gestation is 14-15 months, mating occurs in the spring when males compete for females. -After birth the female nurses its baby for up to 2 years.
-The males' tusks play a large role in finding a mate.
-Narwhals generally live for 50 years.
-Unlike other toothed whales, the only tooth a Narwhal has is its tusk.
-Narwhals are a stable species however, they are hunted because of their ivory tusks.
-They are usually hunted in Canada and Greenland.
-Due to the tusks on males, the fluke design on males help them overcome the drag caused by their long tusks.
-Females' flukes are of a dolphin, so a lot more smoother.