Subject: narwhales, general info
Thu, 13 Mar 1997 9:49:21 GMT+1200

Hello my name is Renee and I am 10 years old. From a seeker I got 
your e-mail address. as I understand this is the ask a scientist 
service about marine mammals. well I am doing a project on narwhales 
because Iam going to be a marine biolgest and because our theacher 
has asked us to do an expert project on any subject.So if you could 
send me anything about narwhales this would be great. thank you,   
you can e-mail me at

Dear Renee,

Narwhals (and their close cousins belugas) are part of the 'odontocete' (meaning 
toothed-whale) family. Their scientific name is Monodon monoceros, from the Greek words 
'monos' for one, 'odon' for tooth and 'keros' for horn.  If you see a photgraph of a narwhal 
that name makes a lot of sense.  Narwhals don't have any visible teeth, but the males do 
have one tooth (usually the left one) which comes out of the gum directly forward, in a 
great spiral.  This is their famous tusk which makes them so distinctive and once thought 
the be the horn of the unicorn.  Scientists think that males use their tusk to display their 
strengh and fight with others males for females, a bit like knights in shining armour.  

Narwhales are not very large whales, usually no more than 15 ft long.  They live up in the 
High Arctic, not far from the ice packs and eat squid, fish and shrimp.  They tend to hang 
out in groups and sometimes groups of up to thousands of individuals can be seen travelling 
together.  They don't have many ennemies apart from the occasional killer whale, and man.  
They have been hunted for centuries, especially for their valuable tusk.  There is no longer 
any commercial hunting but narwhales are still hunted by Canadian and Greenlandic Inuits for 
their thick blubber.

You can find out more about Narwhales by going to your local library.  Good luck with oyur 

Nathalie Patenaude