I can almost imagine how the mythical stories of unicorns, mermaids, sirens and sea monsters came in to being in the old days, when a sailor, a little too rum-soaked for his own good caught sight of an enchanting creature such as the Narwhal.
Narwhals, whose name roughly translates into “whale corpse” in Norse, are related to bottlenose dolphins, belugas, harbor porpoises, and orcas. Found only in the icy waters of the arctic, these mysterious creatures rarely leave these waters and hence not much is known about these creatures. They are often sighted swimming in groups of 15 to 20, but gatherings of hundreds or more narwhals have been reported.
The most unique feature of the Narwhal is the tusk that is found on Male Narwhals lending it the name Unicorn of the seas. All narwhals have two teeth in their upper jaw. After the first year of a male narwhal’s life, its left tooth grows outward, spirally. This long, single tooth projects from its upper jaw and can grow to be 7-10 feet (2-3 m) long. The function of this tusk is yet unknown, marine biologists believe that it plays a part in attracting the female Narwhal during mating rather than it serving as a defense mechanism.
Narwhals can grow to be about 16 feet (4.9 m) long (excluding the tusk), and weigh about 1.8 tons living exclusively on a diet of flat fish and squid. A notable quality of the Narwhal is it’s ability to perform some of the deepest dives ever recorded for a marine mammal, diving to at least 800 meters (2,400 feet) with many dives reaching 1,500 meters (4,500 feet).
So now that I’ve got your attention with this enchanting creature, keep watching this space for my next article on where you can Scuba dive with Narwhals and see these magnificent creatures up close.