Elizabeth has taught in various capacities for 5 years, at both the elementary level and with secondary students. She has a bachelors in History from UCCS and a masters in Special Education from Regis University.
Whale of Mystery
Deep in the cold Arctic Ocean, a mysterious whale hunts. She swims a mile deep, to the bottom of the ocean to find fish in the pitch black water. Like many other kinds of whales, she uses echolocation to find her way around.
Once she catches a fish, she swallows it in one big gulp, and swims back to a hole in the ice for a breath of air. She joins her family, who has also been diving for fish. The males in her family have tusks growing out of their upper jaw.
Our mysterious whale is a narwhal.
What Narwhals Look Like
Narwhals are often called 'sea unicorns' or 'unicorn whales' because the male narwhal has a tusk that sticks straight out of his upper left jaw. The tusks are about 8 feet long. Occasionally females grow tusks, but this is rare. Narwhals use their tusks to impress other narwhals, sort of like peacocks do with their fancy tails.
Narwhals are small compared to other kinds of whales - only about 14 feet long. They have a curved body with small flippers, a bulging forehead, and no fin on their back. Splotches of gray and black cover their backs, while their bellies are white.
How Narwhals Eat
If a narwhal opens its mouth for you, you won't see any teeth. Instead of chewing, narwhals gulp down their food. The male narwhal's tusk is actually a canine tooth!
Because narwhals hunt beneath the sea ice, where it's too dark to see, no one knows they catch fish without teeth. However, scientists know that narwhals use echolocation to find food. Narwhals make clicking noises in the water and figure out what's around them based on how the sound bounces around (or echoes).
Narwhals like to eat arctic fish such as cod, shrimp and small squid. All of these creatures live close to the bottom of the ocean, so narwhals are excellent divers.
Where Narwhals Live
Narwhals love the cold and live in the heart of the Arctic Ocean. Like many other whales, they migrate, or travel to other living areas, throughout the year.
In the summer, narwhals gather into huge groups in the Arctic Ocean, and some spend their summers off the coast of Greenland. In the winter, they break off into small family pods, and travel under the ice as it freezes. Families like to return to the same places year after year.
Narwhals have a special trick to living under the arctic ice - making breathing holes in the ice. The family of narwhals will stay together at the surface of the water and splash with their tails and flippers to keep the ice from freezing over the hole.
Dangers for Narwhals
There are many dangers for narwhals. The Inuit hunt narwhals for food and their blubber, and hunters kill narwhals for the ivory from their tusks.
A growing danger for narwhals is climate change. As the earth gets warmer, there is less and less ice for narwhals to hide under, and the types of fish they eat are moving elsewhere. Although not yet endangered, narwhals are considered a 'near threatened' animal.
Narwhals are small whales that only live in the Arctic Ocean. The males have a tooth that comes straight out of their upper jaw. Narwhals live and migrate in groups, and use echolocation to find their food, which hides deep in the ocean. They are very hard to study because they live so far north and hide under the ice.
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