NARWHAL (Monodon monoceros)
Pronounced: Mon-oh-don mon-oh-say-rus Order: Cetartiodactyla
Kingdom: Animalia Family: Monodontidae
Phylum: Chordata Genus: Monodon
Class: Mammalia Species: Monoceros


Narwhals usually grow between 3.5 and 5 metres long, with males being longer than females. Males are the only ones that have the long tusk, although females occasionally grow a small one. The tusk is actually a tooth that has evolved to grow straight out of their upper jaw. They actually have another tooth beside it, but it rarely develops. The tusk-tooth can grow up to 3 metres long and is grooved in a spiral pattern. Males use their tusk when fighting with other males over a mate.

Nawhals are very social, usually establishing groups of up to 20 individuals, but they have been seen in groups of several thousand, as well. They are found mainly in deep waters of the Atlantic section of the Arctic Ocean, but also occasionally in coastal waters and rivers in the Arctic.

Females usually have one calf, which she nurses for up to a year. The calf will continue to stay with its mother for a long time after it is weaned.

Prey of the narwhal includes fish, shrimp and squid. They have been documented to dive over 1500 metres down and stay there for 25 minutes while searching and feeding. Their predators include killer whales, sharks, polar bears, walruses and humans. Hunting, climate change and water pollution are all significant factors in the Narwhal’s declining population. Potential future threats include habitat destruction due to oil exploration and increased transport rates through the Arctic Ocean. They are listed through the IUCN as a Near Threatened and Conservation Dependant species.


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