Narwhal

Narwhal

Latin name: Monodon Monoceros ,
Conservsation status: near threatened (population is decreasing, some populations unknown)

The rarest of whales, the Narwhal—"unicorn of the ocean"—has two teeth, one of which can grow more than nine feet long in the male. The tooth is sensitive to temperatures and chemicals in the water and scientists think it enables males to find food as well as females ready to mate. Narwhals dive deeper than any whales—as deep as 5,000 feet—and stay under for 25 minutes before surfacing for air.

The Narwhal lives mainly in the Atlantic Arctic. Because of specialized habitat, narrow range and limited diet (Arctic cod and halibut), it is one of the Arctic species most vulnerable to climate change. The Narwhal breeds in bays and fjords, moving offshore during winter to areas of heavy ice pack, breathing through the few cracks. Sudden or extreme temperature change can cause these cracks to freeze shut, trapping the whales. Other threats are illegal hunting, industrial activities, and risks from oil development, exploration and shipping in the Arctic.


Other animals at risk

Tufted Puffin
Tufted Puffin
Tufted Puffins are threatened by sea level rise and storm surges which destroy habitats and breeding areas. In some areas of North America warming seas are causing the fish that the Puffins feed on to migrate farther north, making it difficult for them to find adequate food. Other threats are entrapment in fishing nets, oil spills, pollution, ingestion of plastic, human disturbance of breeding colonies and introduced predators such as rats and foxes.
Leatherback Sea Turtle
Leatherback Sea Turtle
Climate change impacts the Leatherback in two main ways: an increase in the temperature of nesting sands causes a greater proportion of females to hatch, destabilizing future populations; and sea level rise and stronger, more frequent storms erode nesting beaches and wash away eggs and hatchlings. The Leatherback is also threatened from fisheries by-catch, egg collection, coastal development, pollution and ingestion of floating plastics.
Western Glacier Stonefly
Western Glacier Stonefly
Since 1960, the average summer temperature in Glacier National Park has increased by around 1 °C and glaciers have declined by 35%. By counting Stoneflies, scientists can determine how quickly glaciers are melting and the temperature of streams. In a two year search begun in 2011, scientists found the Stonefly in only one of the six streams it had previously occupied and discovered that it had retreated to two different streams at higher altitudes. Satellite data confirm that the world’s glaciers are declining, affecting the availability of fresh water for humans, animals and plants, and contributing to sea level rise.
Ivory Gull
Ivory Gull
Ivory Gulls are almost entirely dependent on sea ice and glaciers for nesting and food foraging. They feed on fish and shellfish that thrive near the edge of the ice, and on the remains of seals left by Polar Bears. Seal blubber is a source of heavy contaminants—Ivory Gull eggs show a higher concentration of mercury and pesticides than any Arctic sea bird. Other threats are illegal hunting and disturbance from diamond mining in the Canadian Arctic.

The Narwhal is at risk from climate change because of: