Devon Island: Narwhals & Belugas
I have never seen narwhals before and traveling again to the Arctic was in part to get a chance to see these mythical animals. Narwhals and belugas are the only two species of a family of small arctic toothed whales. Similar in size at 4-5.5m/13-18ft long, they share many behavioral features – swimming and hunting in pods, communicating by clicks and sounds, diving thousands of meters, and searching for holes in the ice in winter. Male narwhals possess a left-handed helix-spirally-twisted tusk protruding from the front of its head (it’s actually a tooth), that early Europeans thought of belonging to unicorns. In 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I received a carved narwhal tusk worth 10000 pound (or about 3 million dollars in today’s money). We spent days trying to spot narwhals – the unicorns of the north but couldn’t find any, and then, at the very end of the zodiac cruising – a group of 4 female narwhals (no tusks) and a single beluga whale swam about a hundred meters off and close from the shore line. Narwhals – check!