Narwhals seem like mythical creatures, but they’re real. They’re a species of whale that lives in the Arctic waters of Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway. Their tusk is not really a tusk at all, but an extra-long tooth.


Fun Facts

  • Male narwhals are most likely to grow a tusk-like tooth, which emerges from the mouth. This tooth can grow up to 10 feet long. Occasionally, a narwhal will grow two!
  • Narwhals are sometimes called the “unicorns of the sea.”
  • Unlike other whales, narwhals do not migrate. They live their entire lives in the northern seas. During the winter, they often spend up to 5 months under the ice, coming up to get air through cracks in the ice. They can dive up to 1 ½ miles deep into the ocean.
  • Narwhals eat squid, shrimp, and fish.
  • Narwhals change in color as they get older. Baby narwhals are blue-gray. As the whales get older, they change from dark gray to mottled gray. Old narwhals are often white.
  • Because narwhals live in the Arctic Ocean and spend so much time under the ice, they’re hard to study. Scientists still have much to learn.



  1. Mythical: pretend, related to myths and stories
  2. Tusk: a horn


Questions and Answers

Question: What is the tusk for?

Answer: The beautiful, spiral tusk is made of ivory. Scientists believe males might use the tusk to impress females or to ward off other male narwhals in pursuit of a female.

Learn More

Visit National Geographic to watch a video about narwhals.