Narwhals are real

There is a time in every human’s life when you start to realize you’ve been hoodwinked.  Things that you thought were real: Santa Claus, the Tooth fairy, Unicorns, Mermaids….turned out not to be so grounded in reality as you thought.  During this period of discovery, cynicism may sink in.  If these things aren’t real…what is?

I’ve found that a number of my dear friends spent 20 or 30 or more years of their life thinking that Narwhals are mythical creatures, so I thought they would be a wonderful blog topic for Halloween.  Because I have great and exciting news.

NOAA Ocean Explorer: Tracking Narwhals in Greenland

Narwhals are real! Narwhals are actually a member of the toothed whale family (like dolphins & orcas) that live in the Arctic. They are distinguished from other whales by the male’s helical tusk, which is a continuously growing front-left tooth that protrudes through the lip and beyond the face.  All narwhal tusks curve to the left, and are actually quit bendy.

about 1 in 500 narwhals will have two tusks, instead of the usual one.

Some people call them the unicorns of the ocean-the only difference between narwhals and unicorns of course being that narwhals are real and that you can visit them tomorrow if you have the means. They survive on a specialized diet of cod, halibut, cuttlefish, shrimp and a few other things.  Although some people may assume that the whales have a tusk for fighting or exerting dominance, most anecdotal evidence has pointed to narwhals using them to hunt and and stun fish with a smack.

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Liz Climo’s wonderful drawing of a narwhal with his closest relative-the beluga!

Some instances have been seen of male narwhals rubbing their tusks together, but this may not be a form of dominance, “tusking” may actually be a way of communicating water chemistry.

Narwhals have some of the deepest dives of all marine mammals.  They have been recorded to dives of 800 meters  (2620 FEET) up to 15 times PER DAY.

Narwhals, as far as the eye can see.

The truth is, I could go on and on about narwhals, but I won’t.  It just seems appropriate that during this spooky month when costumes are donned, when belief is suspended, when we pretend to be something else, that I could share the happy and wonderful news that NARWHALS ARE REAL.  They are not a mythical creature, and they are all the more amazing because instead of made up lore-we have real life narwhals to study and learn from.

happy narwhal,


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Liz Climo is a treasure

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