Subject: Narwhals

Caroline Margaret Delong (delong@hawaii.edu)
Sun, 25 Apr 1999 13:34:44 -1000

On Sat, 24 Apr 1999, Darcy Errington wrote:

> A student in my SpEd class (4th Grade) is doing his whale report on 
Narwhals.  Do you have any information about this whale species for him?  
He was very interested in echolocation of the Narwhal.  
Thanks for the info.
> 
> Mrs.Darcy Errington
> SpEd. Teacher
> Hugh J. Boyd Elementary School
> Seaside Heights, New Jersey
> 
> <dae@home.com>
> 
Dear Mrs. Errington,

If he has specific questions for me, I would be glad to try to answer
them (I answered the echolocation question below). Here is some general
information on narwhals to start things off-

The narwhal is a unique cetacean species in that the male bears a long
tapering tusk. Narwhals are born grey, then gain white patches with
increasing age until they are white with a black back, head, and neck;
with black edges on their flippers, and flukes. Narwhals live in the
eastern Canadian Arctic Ocean, the waters of western Greenland and east
of Greenland, and the Barents, White, Kara, Laptev, East Siberian and
Chukchi seas, and occasionally in the Bering Sea.   Narwhals are hunted by
the Inuit of northern Baffin Island from June to October. Other than man,
the main predator of the narwhal is probably the killer whale (Orcinus
orca). Narwhals eat a variety of foods- for example, Arctic cod, Greenland
halibut, polar cod, squid, and shrimp.

Narwhals produce narrow-band, regularly spaced pulses, ranging from 1.5 to
24 kHz, which are thought to function as both orientation and
communication signals (Ford and Fisher, 1978). Pulse series with irregular
repetition rates resemble the echolocation clicks of delphinids (according
to Ford and Fisher) and may be used for echolocation. 

References:
Ford, J.K.B., & Fisher, H.D.  (1978).  Underwater acoustic signals of the
narwhal (Monodon monoceros). Canadian Journal of Zoology, 56, 552-560.

Ridgway, S.H., & Harrison, R. (Eds.) (1989). Handbook of Marine Mammals.
Volume 4 River Dolphins and Larger Toothed Whales. New York: Academic
Press. 

Aloha,
Caroline