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Club Fellow captures footage confirming use of Narwhal Tusk

Canadian researchers have released the first footage showing a new utilitarian purpose for Narwhal tusks: namely that Narwhals also use their tusks to hit and stun fish prior to eating them. Documented by Canadian scientist Robert Hodgson and wildlife filmmaker Adam Ravetch FN ’95, the feeding behavior was observed by Canadian scientists from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the University of Windsor, World Wildlife Fund Canada, Vancouver Aquarium, and Pond Inlet Inuit.  This observation complements Inuit Traditional Knowledge about the Narwhal.

While the scientists believe the primary function of the tusk is probably related to sexual selection, this provides new insights into the function of the tusk, raises new, interesting questions about the species, and opens new avenues of research into these iconic marine mammals. There is a wealth of Inuit Tradition Knowledge and a variety of scientific theory about the uses of the Narwhal’s Tusk, but prior to this there has been no definitive recorded scientific evidence.

•   Click here for footage from the World Wildlife Fund

•   Click here for more information from the World Wildlife Fund

•   Click here for footage from Adam Ravetch

•   Click here to read the full release from Fisheries and Oceans Canada

The scientists and Ravetch captured the footage while working on a DFO pilot project to use an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Drone) to study Narwhal behaviour on their summering ground in Tremblay Sound, Nunavut. This research also underlines the potential of UAVs (drones) for making scientific advances in observing and understanding wild animals where behaviours are cryptic or where the presence of researcher can disrupt the behavior.

Published by : Explorers Club Staff

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