In Inuit legend, 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.
The truth of the tusk’s origin developed gradually during the Age of Exploration, as explorers and naturalists began to visit Arctic regions themselves. In 1555, Olaus Magnus published a drawing of a fish-like creature with a horn on its forehead.
But the tusked whale is as real as its land equivalent, the unicorn, is a figment of the imagination.
And this beautiful picture, showing a pod of a couple of dozen of the creatures breaching through the sea ice in the Canadian High Arctic, is no fake.
The narwhal (Monodon monoceros), which has been hunted by the Inuit peoples of the Arctic for centuries, is a large species of whale which lives exclusively around the pack ice of the far north.
Resembling a large dolphin, it grows to up to 18ft in length, but its extraordinary spiral tusk - possessed by all males and only very rarely by females - sets it apart from all its large sea mammal cousins.
Posted: April 22nd, 2008
at 8:20am by Black Ock
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