Often called the “Unicorn of the Sea”, this legendary Arctic inhabitant with its unique tusk is the Narwhal.
The iconic narwhal tusk is actually a modified tooth (one of only two teeth they possess!) that protrudes from their upper lip. This tooth can grow up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) long. Typically only males possess this feature but some females may develop a smaller tusk as well. In rare instances, some males develop double tusks.
The true purpose of the tusk remains unknown, though there have been many theories such as being used to establish dominance within the pod, in mating rituals or perhaps even a sensory organ that can detect things like salt levels in the water. However, it is not believed to be used for hunting prey which includes squid, shrimp, crab, halibut, cod and flounder.
Narwhals are one of only two living members of the monodontidae family. The other member is their Arctic neighbor, the Beluga whale.