The First Narwhal
According to Inuit legend, narwhals were formed when a female hunter with a harpoon was dragged into the water after she struck a whale. This hunter was transformed into a narwhal, and her long braided hair mixed with the harpoon became the narwhal’s characteristically spiraled tusk.
And now, more about that tusk! Keep reading.
What’s in a Name?
As fascinating and even adorable as they may seem, the narwhal’s name isn’t so flattering.
In Old Norse, nár means “corpse,” a name given to the whales because their grayish skin was said to look like that of a drowned sailor, as well as the way they float at the surface of the water in the summertime. Yikes!
By the Numbers
There are currently estimated to be about 75,000 narwhals in the world. They are considered to be “near threatened,” largely due to hunting by humans. Narwhals are, however, one of the most vulnerable animals to climate change in the Arctic.