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Narwhals The Unicorns Of The Sea

1187 words - 5 pages

Unicorns are said to only be true in fairy tales, however there are real unicorns swimming in the oceans today. One of the most interesting yet particularly weird animals living on this planet would have to be the Narwhal or the unicorn of the sea. The Narwhal is a whale that lives in the Arctic and because of its seclusion to the northern seas this whale remains a mystery to most people.
The Narwhal is in the kingdom Animalia and in the phylum Chordata, which means that it is an animal that has a backbone. The Narwhal is in the class mammalia meaning that it is a mammal, giving live birth and nursing its young. The order that the Narwhal is put into is the order Cetacea, a group of mammals that includes only whales, dolphins, and porpoises. The Narwhal belongs to the family Monodontidae, which is the family that consists of two groups of white whales, the Beluga whale and the Narwhal. The actual species name of the Narwhal is Monodon monoceros. The name Monodon literally means “one tooth” and monoceros translated to “one horn” (Narwhal, 2011).
The Narwhal is considered to be a medium-sized whale. Males can weigh up to 3,500 pounds, where as the females are smaller, only weighing up to 2,200 pounds. Both males and females are a white color that is marked with black and white spots on their back. Narwhals are at their darkest when they are born and become lighter in color as they get older. Narwhals have a cylindrical body, no dorsal fin, a round head, and a petite mouth on a very blunt nose. The most eye-catching characteristic of this whale would have to be its unicorn looking horn, which is most noticeable on the males then the females (Narwhal, 2011).
A male Narwhal can have one single tusk that can be anywhere from 7 to 10 feet in length. For females, only about 15 percent have a tusk, which is usually much shorter. On very rare occasion a male Narwhal has been known to have two tusks instead of one. There are numerous ideas on why this particular whale has a tusk, but the most accepted theory is that the tusk is a type of secondary sexual characteristic. Females are more attracted to males with longer tusks. This helps determine social rank, maintain dominance, and help young males develop into adulthood (Narwhal, 2011).
Narwhals are found primarily in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean, and in the Arctic Ocean, around Russia. Like most whale species, Narwhals migrate according to the different seasons. During the summer they will migrate closer to shore. Once winter comes, however, the water freezes and the whales will move away from the shore to open waters where ice becomes tightly packed. They are able to survive out there by finding leads, or small holes in the ice where they take turns breathing (Narwhal, 2011).
Narwhals are a successful marine predator. Their diet mostly consists of fish like Greenland halibut, polar cod and Arctic cod. They also eat a lot of shrimp and Gonatus squid. Since the majority of their prey...

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