Featured Image Credit: Paul Nicklen, National Geographic
By Sarah Sharkey
Narwhals are the mysterious unicorns of the sea that have always been shrouded in myths and legends. Even in our modern world, the mystery around the whale has continued. This is partly due to the fact that scientists know so little about the creatures.
A recent study presented by researchers at the Ocean Sciences Meeting is hoping to illuminate the secret lives of these whales. The aim of this research is hoping to not only uncover the life history of these animals but also glimpse into their patterns to predict how these animals will react to climate change.
According to this new research, narwhals seem to prefer to hang out in glacier fjords that have thick ice fronts. They also like areas that have less calving activity than the average. (Calving is when an iceberg breaks off a glacier). Apparently, they prefer calm conditions in areas without a lot of runoff.
Marine biologist, Kristin Laidre of the University of Washington’s Polar Science Center and the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, had this to say about her presentation, “Arctic marine mammals are really good indicators of climate change because they are very specialized. They are finely attuned to specific environmental conditions, so they are good indicator species for how the physical changes many scientists are documenting in the Arctic can reverberate throughout the ecosystem.”
The continuation of this research will help scientists to learn how to best protect these magnificent animals in the future.
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