TOOTHED or TOOTHLESS (BALEEN): Toothed
FRESHWATER, SALTERWATER or BRACKISH: Saltwater
HABITAT: Arctic ocean, deep waters. During winter months they move offshore where the ice is constantly moving.
LENGTH (maximum): 15Ft
WEIGHT (maximum): 2,200-3,500 lbs
RELATIVE SPECIES: Belugas
OTHER NAMES: “Sea Unicorn”
NEIGHBORING SPECIES: Beluga, bowhead whale
PREDATORS: Humans, killer whales, Greenland Sharks, Polar Bears
THREATS: Commercial hunting for their skin (maktaq) which is a delicacy as well as for their large tusks. Attacks by other predators, although not as common. Occasionally freezing in fast forming ice.
DIET: Arctic cod, squid, shrimp, halibut and other bottom-dwelling species.
MANNER OF FEEDING: They dive very deep (3,300 ft) to suction prey. They do not chew their food.
BEHAVIOR: Travel in large aggregations usually made up of small close nit pods of about 20. These smaller pods usually contain individuals of the same sex and age group. Males will often fight each other for dominance with their tusks for dominance. They are very social with one another, although they are afraid of humans.
REPRODUCTION: Breed in late winter. Gestation is 15 months. Sexually mature at 6-7 years. Calves stay with mother for 12 months.
LIFE SPAN: 25-50 years
- Males have a very long tusk, that is actually a tooth that protrudes through the mouth and continues to grow up to 9 ft.
- The tusk is said to represent a males social ranking.
- Occasionally both teeth will grow into double husks. They lack functional teeth in the mouth.
- For centuries, the tusks where sold as “unicorn horns” and were believed to have magical or healing powers.
- Knopf, Alfred A. Guide to Marine Mammals of the World.Random House. 2002