WARNING: When trying to come up with a column for today, I was faced with a choice of addressing hard-hitting news or dementia in Washington, D.C. I chose this. The following contains absolutely zero intellectual value. Unless you’re a marine biologist.
Sources: Wikipedia, National Geographic, a sixth-grader named Stewart
The narwhal or narwhale (that’s what Stewart told me anyway) belong to the species Monodon Monoceros (Latin for “Watch Out, This Bitch Carries Mono”).
It’s a medium-sized whale (not unlike Oprah) which lives year-round in the Arctic (after its distant relatives, the manatees, got all uppity and kicked them out of their Tampa winter homes for laying around and eating all the fish).
One of two species of whale in the Monodontidae (there’s that ‘mono’ word again) family, along with the beluga whale (who knew?), they are distinguished by being punier than their snotty cousins, the sperm whale (who really have no reason to feel superior. Given their name and all).
In addition to the lack of a true dorsal fin, they possess a characteristic long tusk which extends from a hole in their upper lip. Primarily a male feature (as if a penis wasn’t enough), they aren’t actually “tusks” at all, but some kind of weird-ass tooth. Which makes them a target for ridicule by fish and even squids.
Evidently-drunk medieval Europeans confused this tusk as the horn belonging to the legendary unicorn. Which had no business swimming. What’s more, they believed this horn had magical powers which could cure melancholy, poison, plague, and the Moors. But, since Europeans also believed that elves caused genital herpes, it’s kind of hard to take them seriously.
The purpose for this narwhallic snaggle-tooth (I just made that up) remains a mystery. Differing theories hold that it may have something to do with mating, breaking through dense pack ice, capturing prey, scratching the itch of friendly sea lions, or for advertising. Although, most reputable biologists now refute its use for catching food.
These creatures are found in Canadian, Russian, and Greenland Arctic waters, Seaworld, and with Buddy the Elf. A specialized predator, their diet consists primarily of benthic fish (NOTE: I have no clue what that means. Feel free to look it up).
Narwhal have been hunted for millennia by native Inuit people (the Polynesians having long since left because the beaches were much better in Hawaii) for their meat, ivory, skin, blubber, and as conversation pieces for igloo coffee tables. However, this practice has dwindled due primarily to a shrinking herd, conservation efforts, evolving cultural practices, and the fact that Door Dash now delivers to the North Pole.
Other predators include killer whales (which aren’t whales at all, but particularly bad-ass dolphins), polar bears, and the occasional confused mountain lion.
Master of the Northern Ocean (if sperm whales are on vacation), Denizens of the Deep, Bucktoothed Whipping Boys of the Whale World, Scourge of Benthic Fish.
Or, as Qaanaaq, Tribal Elder and Noted Inuit Crazy Person, likes to call them, “Nanooq lamooq na attatook hanni boof.”
Or, “Beast In Front of Whom One Must Never Bend Over.”
But, I could be wrong.
DISCLAIMER: A lot of the above is
probably definitely not true. Especially that “Qaanaaq” business. But, elves probably do cause herpes. At least that’s what Sister Mary Ignatius of the Yardstick told us in Religion and Marine Biology class.