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Narwhals, the unicorns of the sea

Aptly nicknamed ‘Unicorns of the sea’, narwhals are enchanting and majestic mammals that steer clear from the shore. Little is known about these elusive creatures and they are now thought to be near-threatened. Residing in the waters of the Arctic Circle, sightings of the beautiful narwhal are considered quite common, so you may be lucky enough to spot one on an Artic cruise. Here’s what we do know about them.

Narwhal

Growing between 4 – 6 metres, with females averaging a slightly smaller 4 metres, narwhals are considered to be medium-sized whales. The narwhal tusk is a long, spiral-like tooth protruding from the head, and is more commonly found in males. It is believed that these serve for mating purposes, protection and shows of dominance over other narwhals.

Found in the Arctic Circle near Northern Canada, Greenland and Russia, the narwhal is one of the two living species of the monodontidae family. Living off a diet of fish, such as cod, halibut and shrimp, narwhals rarely eat during the summer months due to having stored enough food during the winter months.

Narwhals breaching

Once fully matured, female narwhals can give birth every three years. Their gestation period lasts 14 months. Known to be extremely social mammals, narwhals travel around in groups of 15 -20. This is called a pod. Multiple pods often meet socially and communicate via squeaks, clicks and whistles.

Considered to be near-threatened by the ICUN Red List, the exact population of these mammals is not known. Narwhals are hunted for their ivory tusks and vitamin C rich skin by native Inuits. Outreach groups now work with locals, ensuring that numbers are being kept steady. The importation of their tusks and meat has been banned in many countries.

If you want to try and catch a glimpse of these fascinating creatures, we have expeditions where this could be possible. To find out more, or book an exciting expedition call our team today.

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