The narwhal is a toothed whale that lives year-round in the Arctic. The narwhal is the rarest of all species of whale, and scientists know very little about them.
They do know that there are about 20,000 to 30,000 of them and that they cruise the waters of the Arctic Ocean far from shipping lanes and the hunting grounds of whaling ships. Males have a huge left tooth that grows throughout their life.
At some point in the whale’s youth, this tooth pierces the upper lip and keeps growing beautifully straight and tapered but twisted in a perfect spiral. Nobody has the slightest idea what the narwhal males use this great tooth for.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, the narwhal was thought to be a unicorn, and its tooth was worth its weight in gold. At that time, whalers hunted the Arctic for the whale and killed every one they could find.
One of the greatest appeals of the “unicorn horn” was that it was supposed to protect its owner from poisons.
According to Inuit legend, the narwhal’s tusk was created when a woman with a harpoon rope tied around her waist was dragged into the ocean after the harpoon had pierced a large narwhal. She turned into a narwhal herself, and her hair twisted around in the water until it became the narwhal tusk.