May 252017
 

Scientists are marveling over never-before-seen footage of narwhals that has brought to light new evidence for what those unicorn-like tusks are actually used for.

Narwhals are toothed whales who live in the Arctic waters of Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia, but they don’t actually have any teeth in their mouth. Instead, the males grow a long straight tooth, or tusk, that spirals out of their upper left jaw that can grow as long as nine feet.

This long, spiraled tusk is a unique feature that has gotten them dubbed ‘unicorns of the sea,’ but there’s been a lot of speculation about what they’re for and how they’re used.

Now, newly released drone footage taken in Tremblay Sound in northeastern Canada has offered some new insight.

Photo credit: NOAA

The footage captured narwhals using their tusks to tap and stun Arctic cod before eating them, and is the first recorded evidence that they use their tusks to hunt.

“Documenting such novel behavior of a complex and difficult to study species that inhabits such a challenging environment is absolutely incredible.

These data prove the value of direct observation to understand animal behavior and ecology, but also highlight the important role of technology in modern science,” said Dr. Nigel Hussey, of the University of Windsor.

While the footage has confirmed the theory that they use them to hunt, they may also be used for other purposes, including sexual selection, breaking ice and echolocation. Last year, scientists studying narwhals in Greenland found that they have incredible directional sonar, likely because of the sensitivity of their tusks, which lack enamel on the outside and are incredibly sensitive.

The footage, which was captured by scientists from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the University of Windsor, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada, the Vancouver Aquarium, along with Arctic Bear Productions, also raises new questions about narwhals and opens up more avenues of research. Scientists hope that the finding will help raise awareness about narwhals and help increase conservation efforts in the Arctic.

Unfortunately, they’re threatened by development, ocean noise and climate change, among other things, but more information about important areas for them could help inform decisions that will keep them safe from disturbances.

“This footage, while also stunning to watch, will play a significant role in the future of narwhal conservation. As the Arctic warms and development pressure increases, it will be important to understand how narwhal are using their habitat during their annual migration. With this information in hand, we can work to minimize the effects of human activities on narwhal,” said David Miller, President and CEO of WWF-Canada.

This article was first published by Care2.com on 16 May 2017.

 

Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter

 

 

Share on social media:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

avatar
Paulette Pierce

Awesome!!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

narwhals and silver ribbons

narwhals and silver ribbons
playful and pure.
dancing through her
heartmind…
still awake
still in wonder…
ever hopeful,
she dreams.

Barik Tarik Bakekek

finally, an informative article

wpDiscuz

Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days

  1. POLL: Should the cruel sport of bullfighting be banned? [2279 Views]
  2. Karma Strikes Again: Trophy Hunter Killed by Elephant [1124 Views]
  3. POLL: Should all circuses with wild animals be closed down? [977 Views]
  4. ‘Kill them, kill them, kill them’: the volunteer army plotting to wipe out Britain’s grey squirrels [820 Views]
  5. Bald Eagle Adopts Baby Hawk Instead of Eating Him [772 Views]
  6. $10,000 reward offered to find killer of famous Yellowstone white wolf [701 Views]
  7. POLL: Should the Grizzly Bear be removed from the Endangered Species List? [688 Views]
  8. Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [642 Views]
  9. Heroic Boat Captain Rescues Entangled Great White Shark [622 Views]
  10. Elephants Can’t Wait to Meet New Rescued Baby at Sanctuary [617 Views]

Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months

  1. White Killer Whale Adult Spotted for First Time in Wild [42100 Views]
  2. POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farms? [16884 Views]
  3. POLL: Should Congress disband Wildlife “Killing” Services? [11108 Views]
  4. POLL: Should fur farming be banned in the European Union? [9198 Views]
  5. POLL: Should driven grouse-shooting be banned? [8679 Views]
  6. POLL: Should grouse shooting on highland estates be banned? [8246 Views]
  7. POLL: Should China’s dog meat festival be banned? [7448 Views]
  8. POLL: Should the killing of giraffes be outlawed? [4694 Views]
  9. POLL: Should the slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroes be stopped? [4659 Views]
  10. POLL: Should Spain’s “Running of the Bulls” festival be banned? [4609 Views]