What Do Narwhals Eat?

Narwhals feed on Greenland halibut, Arctic and polar cod, squid, and shrimp. They do their chomping at the ice floe edge and in the ice-free summer waters.

What do narwhals look like?

The most prominent characteristic of narwhals is the two to three meter long tusk, which most male narwhals carry, but only a few female individuals. Narwhals have a spherical forehead, a rounded mouthline, no dorsal fin, and short, blunt pectoral fins. They do not have a protruding beak. The caudal fin has such a peculiarly shaped trailing edge that it looks like it’s attached upside down. Together with the belugas, they form the family of the goby whales (Monodontidae).

What is your everyday life like?

Narwhals live in groups of 10 to 20 individuals, but during the summer months they gather in the hundreds or even thousands to begin their migrations. They swim close together and close to the surface. Occasionally, all group members will jump out of the water and dive back in at the same time. The reason for this behavior is not yet known.

The deepest recorded dive of a narwhal was 1,500m. They can hold their breath for up to 25 minutes.

What do they feed on?

Narwhals prefer flatfish, cod, shrimp, squid and crab, which they find on the ocean floor during their long dives. They use echolocation to find food and have an interesting way of feeding: they create a sort of vacuum and suck up their food.

Where do you live?

Narwhals inhabit the waters north of the Arctic Circle, up to the edge of the ice sheet, and are often found right on the pack ice. In summer they migrate closer to the coast of Canada and Greenland into cold, deep fjords and bays.

Their natural enemies are polar bears, orcas, and some species of sharks. They were hunted by humans for centuries for their tusk ivory.

Since their habitat is at the edge of the pack ice, they are particularly badly affected by climate change.

Are narwhal predators or prey?

Found primarily in Canadian Arctic and Greenlandic and Russian waters, the narwhal is a uniquely specialised Arctic predator. In winter, it feeds on benthic prey, mostly flatfish, under dense pack ice.

How do narwhals get their food?

Narwhals are fond of flatfish, cod, shrimp and squid and species like crab that they find on the seabed during their long dives. They use echolocation to help them find food and have an interesting way of eating – creating a sort of vacuum and sucking up their food.

What is a narwhal’s horn for?

The tusk instead seems to be used as a tool for sensing changes in the environment, like differences in water temperature, salt level, and the presence of nearby prey. Scientists once thought that narwhal tusks were used for fighting, but narwhals actually rub their horns against each other for cleaning.

Do narwhals eat jellyfish?

The narwhal hoovers up 99-176 lb (45-80 kg) of fish, prawns, and jellyfish every day.

Are narwhals friendly to humans?

Unfortunately, narwhals may not be equipped to handle such close encounters with humans. When these whales face hazards they aren’t used to, their bodies react in a troubling way, researchers reported today in Science.

What are narwhal tusks made of?

The narwhal’s tusk is a tooth with millions of nerve endings. That means you can use it to “feel” or taste it. Narwhals have two teeth and in males the left tooth usually forms a tusk. Some have two tusks, and about three percent of female narwhals also have one tusk.

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