Narwhal troubles: Global climate change could hit them hardest

Tusk, tusk: A pair of narwhals surface in the Arctic waters. A new study says that the sea creatures are the most at risk to changes from global warming
Tusk, tusk: A pair of narwhals surface in the Arctic waters. A new study says that the sea creatures are the most at risk to changes from global warmingCourtesy Glenn Williams
Is there a more overlooked creature of the animal kingdom than the narwhal? Granted, it lives in the frosty waters of the Arctic Ocean and has a twisted, mean-looking tusk, but why don’t we give the narwhal more love?

Global climate change researchers are taking note of the odd sea beast. They’ve categorized the narwhal as being the sea creature most at risk from global warming changes. The pronouncement was made following in-depth analysis of how potential environmental problems that could affect the 11 marine animals that live year-round in the Artic region.

Polar bears, which have been generally considered the most “at-risk” animals from global warming, came in second place in the rankings.

Right now there are actually a lot more narwhals in the Arctic region (50,000 to 80,000) than polar bears (20,000). But researchers feel the overall impacts of global warming could have a quicker, more devastating impact on narwhals.

What’s the difference? Adaptability. Polar bears are able to gather food either by swimming or roaming land. As ice sheets diminish, they can forage for food on land.

Narwhals, on the other hand, are highly specialized creatures. A main feeding practice is diving to depths of 6,000 feet to feed on halibut. They live in areas with 99-percent ice cover. If that ice area diminishes, predators like orcas and polar bears will have easier access to getting to narwhals. And warming waters could send the narwhal’s favorite food of halibut to non-icy areas as well.

Following narwhals and polar bears as the most at-risk Arctic animals were the hooded seal, bowhead whale and walrus. Least at-risk are ringed seals and bearded seals according to the study.

Aerial view: A group of narwhals can be seen swimming together from an aerial view.
Aerial view: A group of narwhals can be seen swimming together from an aerial view.Courtesy narwhal.info
BTW: Here’s a little more general information about narwhals:

• They don’t use their tusks for hunting. Males do have “duels” with each other using the tusks to establish dominance. Male tusks can grow up to be 10 feet long. Females grow a much smaller tusk. The tusks are also twisted in a corkscrew fashion.

• An adult narwhal can measure to around 25 feet in length. Males can weigh up to 3,500 pounds while females are about 2,200 pounds.

• The animals also exclusively hunt under thick ice sheets.

• Inuit legends has it that the narwhal was created when a woman holding onto a harpoon had been pulled into the ocean and twisted around the harpoon. The submerged woman was wrapped around a beluga whale on the other end of the harpoon, and that is how the narwhal was created.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Jefflemus00's picture
Jefflemus00 says:

well I personally think that narwhals are in the verge of being extinct,their habitats are diminishing and soon their food will be scarse because of global warming...we need to do something abut this.

posted on Tue, 04/29/2008 - 2:38pm
Allie0's picture
Allie0 says:

I AGRE! I am 9 and I think that every animal should be saved!!! NO GLOBAL WARMING ALOWD!!!!!


i am doing a report on them for school and they are amazing animels. I love narwhals!!!!

posted on Wed, 05/23/2012 - 5:23pm
twila_08's picture
twila_08 says:

this is kind of crazy how they just talk about the polar bears more and there are a lot more of these animals. I guess because people know more about polar bears.

Twila Turnage

posted on Wed, 04/30/2008 - 9:03am
Candice_318's picture
Candice_318 says:

I did a project on it and im afraid the bears are going to die..
Bu i've never heard of these things.... Never in life
Sponsered in part by
IM AWESOME Productions

posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 7:44am
SHANEE's picture
SHANEE says:


posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 9:00am
hmoob_muas's picture
hmoob_muas says:

what are these animals. never seen one of them in real life
nor on the television, so sad they are in danger too....

posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 9:01am
andyshadexx's picture
andyshadexx says:

Well i do feel bad for these animals, bu then that how the world no. We Human cause it all so what can we do, but talk about it?

posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 9:10am
koallainfestation37's picture
koallainfestation37 says:

narwhales are wierd

posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 9:19am
tiffany_88's picture
tiffany_88 says:

The global warming increase change in the animals and the environment. The clime change day to day and the consequences come in.

posted on Fri, 05/02/2008 - 8:35am
bert123's picture
bert123 says:

narwhales are pretty wierd looking creatures. so can that steeple type thing on them break off and kill them?
IBI Call it what you want IBI

posted on Fri, 05/02/2008 - 8:55am
flinch619's picture
flinch619 says:

im diggin narwhales dude


posted on Fri, 05/02/2008 - 9:02am
nelson.robin's picture
nelson.robin says:

man global warming is changing now it was still snowing with the sun out during april man thats global warming fo you

posted on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 7:56am
josh vlasin's picture
josh vlasin says:

what can i do to stop global warming?

posted on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 10:32am
Kunicki24's picture
Kunicki24 says:

poor Narwhals, the climate is all funky every where we got snow in the middle of april and it was sunny out ... talk about weird...

posted on Thu, 05/08/2008 - 9:08am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i love narwhals

posted on Tue, 12/15/2009 - 3:26pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this is stupid the ice is going away so the halibut are moving to non icy areas


posted on Tue, 01/12/2010 - 5:41pm
Anonymou's picture
Anonymou says:

narwhls they ar ta nar wales

posted on Tue, 01/12/2010 - 5:43pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

they are the jedi of the sea

posted on Thu, 01/14/2010 - 12:22pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

yeah!!!! narwhals rule! poor creatures though... they need a better enviorment then this!!

posted on Tue, 03/23/2010 - 8:51am
DB's picture
DB says:

C'mon gang, the earth isn't going through some monstrous climactic change. Quit listening to your public school teachers!!! They are brainless. The climate of this planet has changed cyclically for thousands, in fact millions of years. Google "ice core samples" and what they mean when decoded. The earth warming and cooling is a natural event that man has been trying to understand (blame) on humans but it's simply NOT the case. It's been happening LONG before the evil humans ever came around.
Don't absorn knowledge.......RESEARCH IT.

posted on Wed, 06/15/2011 - 8:10am
AshAsh's picture
AshAsh says:

DB, really??? Do you like live in a box or something? Like come on. A LOT of scientists believe this, not just teachers. Go talk to an actual scientist and they'll show you proof of what's going on. Don't believe everything you search on the internet... Just saying. And, I'm not trying to be mean or anything, just...yeah. What do you mean 'evil humans'? You're one too.

posted on Sun, 09/30/2012 - 7:37pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

DB, where is your proof? I'm sorry but it's not just a few public school teachers, it's a whole bunch of leading scientists. If you read on reliable sites (like national geographic) you find that it's a combination of natural cycles and human interference. So, should we not try to limit our impact, and slow global warming, so species have time to evolve?

P.S. Sorry if this sounds offensive, just interested.

posted on Mon, 09/19/2011 - 12:10pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Just because a bunch of leads scientists say something doesn't make it true.
And contrary to popular belief, National Geographic is not as "reliable" as many will claim.

The topic of evolution is a slippery one. Are you referring to micro evolution, or macro? If you are referring to macro evolution, I'm afraid all/any species will find it impossible to "evolve" fast enough to adapt to the rapidly changing environment, If anything evolves at all.

If you'd like to talk more, email me. I'd love to chat.

posted on Wed, 09/21/2011 - 10:12am

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