The narwhal is quite a mythical looking creature; if a unicorn mated with a whale you would most likely get this! It has a long tusk sticking out of its forehead, people once though that it was put on their head by unicorns since unicorns were thought to be magic. Vikings sold narwhal tusks to Europeans claiming them to be unicorn horns, selling them for the weight of the horn in gold. No need to worry about those tusk attacking your boat, as narwhals will not strike with them, the tusks serve a purely social purpose.
Narwhals can weight up to 1600Kg (3500lb) and can be up to 8m (26ft) long. The tusk can be up to 3m (10ft) long and the body up to 5m (16ft) long. The narwhal has light black skin with white spots or patterns on it; they are the darkest black when born and get lighter in colour as they age. Narwhals generally live in the northern Atlantic and Russian waters rarely going below 65 degrees north. Narwhals are a migratory species, in the summer they migrate closer to the shores and in the winter move away from the shores swimming under pack ice, coming up for air in the gaps. Narwhals live and migrate in pods (a group of whales, narwhals or dolphins are called a pod) of 10 to 100.
The tusk that grows out of the narwhal’s head is actually a tooth and is very similar to the tusk of an elephant. As the tusk grows it twists and can end up with a straight twist or a wavy twist like a corkscrew. The average male and female have one tusk but 1 in 500 males develop two tusks and in even rarer odds for a female to develop two tusks. The tusk is used like the mane of a lion or the feathers of a peacock, to impress the ladies! The male with the largest and longest tusk gets all the ladies, of course. The tusks are also used to show dominance in social standings, narwhals will rub their tusks together with other narwhals to prove dominance and that is called tusking.
Narwhals live off a specialized diet of deep-sea animals that live on the ocean floor, mostly Greenland halibut, polar and Arctic cod, shrimp and gonatus squid, sometimes scientist find wolfish, capelin, skate eggs and rocks (believed to accidently eat them while feeding near the ocean floor) in their stomachs. It is rare for a creature to survive as well as Narwhals do on such a specialized diet although narwhals are at risk with ice caps melting because it will greatly affect their food source.
Narwhals are well known in scientific community for their deep diving abilities, diving up 1500 meters (4921ft), lasting as long as 25 minutes and doing that as many as 15 times a day. The tallest building the world is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and that is 828m (2717ft) – ergo, a narwhal will dive almost as deep as two Burj Khalifas standing on top of each other, now that is an epic dive! The deepest a submarine has ever dived successfully is 1300ft. If a human were to dive that deep our bodies would be crushed under all that pressure, but that is an average afternoon for the narwhal.
Just goes to show that sometimes what people thought to be make believe is an actual creature, a whale with a ‘unicorn horn’. Maybe unicorns are real and we just have not found them yet. Just keep searching and nature will always show up with something amazingly epic!