The Narwhal (Monodon monoceros) is an Arctic cetacean that is also called the Moon Whale. The most notable feature of the narwhal is the up to 10 foot long tusk that males have. (This photo shows males rubbing their tusks together in an activity called “tusking.”) Otherwise, narwhals have the appearance of a beluga whale, though they are mottled or spotted.
A male narwhal can reach 16 feet in body length and weigh about 1.8 tons! Females are usually about 3 feet shorter and only weigh 1 ton. At birth a narwhal can be 5 feet long and 175 pounds.
Narwhals are predominantly found in the Atlantic and Russian and Canadian areas of the Arctic. They are a migratory species and in summer found closer to the coasts. Narwhals are often found in pods of 15 to 20. Their main predators are polar bears, sharks, walruses and orcas. They in turn feed squid, fish and crustaceans.
Fun Narwhal Facts
- Narwhal tusks do not regrow if they are broken off.
- The male's tusk is actually a very long twisted tooth that is hollow.
- Narwhal means "corpse whale" in Old Norse—perhaps due to the coloration of their bluish white skin.
- Baby narwhals are brown.
- Narwhals click, squeal, and whistle to communicate and/or navigate.
- Sometimes narwhals are called the unicorns of the sea.