Canadian Marine Life Encyclopedia
Also known as
Unicorns of the sea, Qilalugaq tugaalik
Arctic Ocean in Canada, Greenland and Europe
Sheltered deep-water coastal areas and deep fjords
Suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales); Family Monodontidae (white whales)
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Narwhals are an Arctic whale species, commonly identified by their unique tusk which protrudes from their foreheads. This tusk has coined them the nickname “the unicorns of the sea.” They are considered a social species, often travelling in a social group of two to 12 individuals. Narwhals hold great cultural significance and continue to be an important source of food to the indigenous Greenlandic and Canadian Inuit people. Narwhals were historically hunted for their valuable ivory tusks, but today the population size remains healthy and is not of concern.