Featured Image Credit: Arctic Kingdom
By: Sarah Sharkey
Narwhals are the unique unicorns of the sea. Not only are they beautiful, but also notoriously hard to study. They call an arctic icepack their home, which makes it almost impossible for researchers to learn about their habits. Imagine trying to study these animals through cracks in ice packs in one of the most inhospitable places on the planet.
A recent advancement has allowed researchers to finally follow these animals through the ice. A small acoustic tag attached by a magnesium link is allowing researchers to listen to the life of a narwhal for several days. The acoustic magnesium link breaks off after just a few days, it floats to the surface and researchers can recover it via the GPS signal.
So far, the team has collected 533 hours of narwhal sound. What are they going to do with all of that sound?
The team is helping to uncover the lives of animals that are continually shrouded by ice and mystery. By analyzing the sounds and the corresponding locations, these researchers are slowly building a picture of the natural history of a narwhal. All of this information is helping to fill in the gaps that have baffled scientists for years. It may be a while before the entire life history of a narwhal is uncovered, but this study is a great start!