The narwhal is famous for the long ivory tusk which spirals counter-clockwise several feet forward from its upper lip. The tusk is actually the whale's upper left canine tooth. Male narwhals commonly have a single tusk, but they sometimes have two tusks, or none at all. Around 15% of females have a tusk.
Video reveals clue to the mystery of the narwhal tusk
Footage captured by aerial drones as part of a narwhal research camp in Tremblay Sound, Nunavut, is giving biologists new insights into the behaviour of one of the world’s most mysterious whales.Read more
- scientific name
- adult weight
males up to 1900 kg; females up to 1550 kg
- adult length
males up to 5.4 m; females up to 4.9 m, plus tusk up to 3 m
> 170,000 worldwide
Least Concern (IUCN)
What is a narwhal's tusk for?
For centuries now, people have puzzled over the narwhal's unicorn-like tusk, and just what purpose it serves.
The work of Dr. Martin Nweeia and science and Inuit colleagues involved with the Narwhal Tusk Research project has unearthed evidence that the tusk has sensory capabilities.
Using drone photography, filmmaker Adam Ravetch captured a surprising behaviour for the first time. In this amazing video, a male narwhal appears to use his tusk to hit and stun fish.
Threats to narwhals
How we work
This predominantly Arctic species is associated with ice floes. Its movement patterns are therefore influenced by the melting and freezing of the ice. The bowhead has suffered from severe over-exploitation that has seen its range shrink considerably since the 17th century.
The walrus is easily recognised by its sheer size and magnificent tusks. It is a keystone species in Arctic marine ecosystems. The walrus was once threatened by commercial hunting, but today the biggest danger it faces is climate change.