The Whisker Chronicles

Whiskers are also known as vibrissa, from the latin vibrare "to vibrate". Vibrissa are the specialized hairs on mammals and the bristlelike feathers near the mouths of many birds. Their resonant design is symbolic of the energies, good and bad, that are reverberating throughout the natural world. Every living thing is connected and, by birthright, deserves to exist.

Day Six of Twelve Days of Arctic Animals: Narwhal

300px-Narwhals_breach

Scientific Name:  Monodon monoceros

 Scientifically named by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, Monodon monoceros means “one tooth, one horn”.

Where Narwhals Live: 

Narwhals are rarely found far from loose pack ice and they prefer deep water, particularly in the summer.  When ice cover is low in larger, deeper water bodies, they move to smaller water bodies. The advance and retreat of the ice initiates migration.

There are an estimated 80,000 world population of narwhals, with pods found eastwards from the Canadian Arctic to central Russia.  Narwals occur infrequently or rarely in eastern Siberia, Alaska, and the western Canadian Arctic. They mostly remain above the Arctic Circle year-round, but some pods have been recorded around Newfoundland, Europe, and the eastern Mediterranean. The largest narwhal pod lives in the deep inlets, sounds and channels of the eastern Canadian Arctic and north-west Greenland in the summer, where the deep waters are important for calving.

narwhal-range-map

What Narwhals Eat:   

Narwhals eat polar cod, Greenland halibut, flounder, salmon, herring, crustaceans, octopuses, squids and crustaceans. Lacking many teeth, narwhals are speculated to use suction and a jet of water to dislodge bottom-dwelling fish and molluscs.

How Long Narwhals Live:  30 to 55 years

Why Narwhals are Awesome:

Narwhals are often called the “unicorn of the ocean” but the tusk is actually a tooth that grows from the upper jaw of male. Scientists are beginning to understand the function and purpose of the tusk as explained at WWF Global.

 Why We Care about Narwhals: 

Narwhal habitat and dietary resources are affected by climate change and pollution. In fact, there is scientific speculation that narwhals might be more sensitive to the impacts of climate change than the polar bear.

Here is some awesome video footage of a diver and a narwhal.

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