real life

"Did everyone else know narwhals, aka sea unicorns, are actually real?"


I like to consider myself relatively smart. I do well in pub trivia, I plan ahead for emergencies and I don’t take unnecessary risks.

But I might have to revoke all claims of intelligence now that I found out sea unicorns are real.

Narwhals, commonly known as sea unicorns, are pale-coloured whales with giant horn-like tusks extending from their heads.

They’re about the size of a bus and for me, up until now, presumed to be a long-standing internet joke.

If you, like me, are understandably shocked these creatures exist, I’m about to blow your mind with some narwhal facts.


1 .Narwhals are HUGE.

Narwhals can grow to the size of a bus. It has been documented they can weigh as much as 1.6 tonnes and grow as long as 5.5 metres.

2. A narwhal’s tusk is actually an enlarged tooth.

The spiral-like rod that protrudes through a narwhal’s upper lip is a tooth that can grow up to three metres long.

It is also considered a “sensory organ” due to all the nerve endings it possesses.

Narwhals are born with two teeth but it’s usually only the left one that explodes into a mighty sea sword.

There remains great mystery within the scientific community about the exact purpose of their tusks.


3. All males have a tusk but only a few females do. 

All males have a tusk. Boring. This is not a fun animal fact.

What is fun is knowing that very few females grow a tusk too. I want to find all of these badass tusk-growing females and give them a high five for defying gender norms.

(Source: National Geographic/YouTube.)

4. Narwhals often die when the surface freezes over.

Prepare yourself for tragic news. Narwhals need oxygen, so when the temperature drops low enough for the water's surface to freeze over, they become trapped and die.

Love learning new things? Listen to our Mamamia Out Loud podcast to hear what's got us talking this week. 

5. Narwhals are like gobstoppers (sort of) and change colour as they age. 

Narwhals are born a bluish colour, become grey in adulthood and head towards white in their senior years. Narwhals have the lifespan of up to 50 years.

The discovery of narwhals is up there with my favourite late-to-the-trend life discoveries.

Other discoveries have included: the benefits of a slow-cooker, burrata cheese and lime NOT LEMON in avocado smash.

Why anyone hasn't done a Finding Nemo, narwhal version, is absolutely beyond me.