Narwhal Facts for Kids

Unicorn’s of the Sea, Narwhal Facts for Kids

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Narwhals are sometimes called unicorns of the sea because they have a long horn coming out the top of their heads. They are part of the toothed-whale family. Learn more about these interesting mammals with these Narwhal Facts for Kids.

What is a Narwhal?

Narwhals are a marine whale and belong to the monodontidae family, there are tow living species of monodontidae, narwhales and beluga whales. Narwhales are related to whale, dolphin and porpoise. There scientific name is Monodon Monoceros which means one-tooth, one horn. They are nicknamed the unicorn of the sea due to their long tusks that grow out of their head.

Narwhals are mammals and breathe air to survive. They can stay underwater for up to 25 minutes before coming up for air.

What do Narwhals Look like?

Narwhals are large. Adult narwhals can be 12-20ft long and weigh 3,500 pounds. Like most toothed-whales males are larger than females.

Narwhals have long horns or tusks that grow out of their foreheads, similar to a unicorn. Did you know that their “tusks” aren’t horns or tusks at all?  It is a long-left tooth, that can grow up to 10 ft. long and weigh 22 pounds. Narwhals do have any teeth in their mouths on the one tooth on their forehead. A narwhal’s tusk is made out of ivory.

Male and females can have tusks, but they are found mostly in men.

Some narwhal’s do not have any tusks at all. On rare occasions male narwhals have grow two.

Scientists are still not quite sure what this “tusk” is used for.  Some believe that it may be used during mating, others believe it is used to fight off rival narwhals and some believe that it is used to detect changes in water temperature.

Narwhals change color as they age. When they are born they are a blue-gray color, when they are young they are a blue-black color, as adults they are mottled gray and old narwhals are white.

Narwhal Habitat

Narwhals live in Arctic waters of Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia. During winter months narwhals live under sea ice. They can live 50 years in the wild but often times they are caught in sea ice and die of suffocation.

What do Narwhals eat?

Narwhals eat poplar cod, halibut, squid, shrimp, halibut and other fish.

They eat more in the winter to store a lot of food, they eat significantly less in the summer months.

Narwhal Characteristics

Narwhals often stay close to the water’s surface but can dive down over 4,000ft. They can hold their breathe for up to 25 minutes. Cracks in the sea ice allow them to pop out of the water to breathe. Remember narwhales are mammals and need air to breathe.

They live in groups of 10-100 narwhals. Narwhals groups are called pods.

They are social and communicate with each other using a variety of sounds and clicks.

Adult narwhals can be 12-20ft long and weigh 3,500 pounds.

Predators include polar bears, orca and whales.

Loss of habitat due to climate change is also a threat.

Baby Narwhals

Female narwhals start having babies between the ages of 6 and 8. Females narwhals are pregnant for 14 months before giving birth. Narwhals usually give birth to one baby at a time.

Baby narwhals are called calves.  Calves are born around 5ft long and weight around 176 pounds. Babies are darker in color and lighten as they age.

Baby narwhals are born without their tusks. They start growing after they are born.

Like other mammals, babies drink milk from their mother after they are born. They will continue to drink milk from their mother until they are 20 months old.

For the first 20 months of life calves will stay close to their mothers. Mother narwhals will teach her baby survival skills. After 20 months the baby will leave its mothers side but stay within the pod.

Narwhal Coloring Pages

Click the links below to print your free narwhal coloring pages