Featured Animal: Narwhal

Meet our featured animal, the narwhal!

Narwhal

Here are five facts about narwhals:

  • The horn on a narwhal is actually a giant, spiraled tooth.
  • The long tooth can reach up to 3 m (10 ft.) in length and grows continually to replace wear.
  • The name narwhal derives from the old Norse word nar meaning corpse.
  • Narwhals travel in groups (or pods) of 15-20 whales.
  • Preying on creatures primarily on the bottom of the sea, they dive on average 800 m (.5 mi.), but can go twice that.

Learn more about narwhals >

Searching for Narwhals

narwhalThere is not a great deal known about the narwhal, a whale most familiar for its long spiraled horn. Researchers are trying to change that by attempting to net and tag a narwhal in Greenland.  Thousands of narwhals spend their summer in the cold waters off of Greenland’s shore.

Researcher Kristin Laidre has spent the last eight years attempting to tag a narwhal with a satellite transmitter which would send a variety of information. She is interested in knowing where narwhals travel and how deep they dive.

Laidre has managed to attach satellite transmitters to narwhals in other regions, but the Greenland population seems to be much more difficult to get close to.  Perhaps in another summer she’ll get lucky and finally attach a transmitter, but for her, this summer has ended the same way the last eight have.

For the full story and a podcast visit NPR.org.