Thursday, June 16, 2011

Another way to make money

As you know, most cetacean killings are because of pure greed. And of course, the killings of narwhals is another way to make money, for many men who kill them are poor. Narwhals are most known for the left incisor that grows out into a 10 ft long ivory tusk in males, which is responsible for unicorn legends. Males may seldom produce a second tusk, where the right incisor grows out. Females have a shorter, straighter tusk. Narwhals are hunted for these tusks(and skin and meat sometimes) in summer in Canada and Greenland. They are known as Tuugaaliks in Canada. When a pod comes near the ice, the news is spread throughout the town. The town has been waiting all winter for this moment. Hunters arrive in snowmobiles with high-powered rifles. They take positions along the ice and wait for the whales to surface near the ice. When they surface close enough, they are shot with the rifles. They then retrieve the narwhal with a grappling hook that is thrown by hand. Each man hopes to land a narwhal with a tusk that can sell for more than a thousand dollars. They also look forward to fresh muktuk, the top layer of blubber and skin, which is a delicacy. Even though many shots are fired over many hours, usually only a few are caught. But to kill the whale, they must be shot in the spine or brain the instant it's filling it's lungs. If it's shot at the wrong moment, it's body will sink. If it's wounded, it will swim away and most likely die later. Many of the whales receive multiple shot wound before they actually die. Even whales that are shot just right usually float beyond reach to be hooked and sink. So many that are killed die for no reason.

Along the west coast of Greenland, narwhal's numbers went from 10,500 in 1986 to 1,500 in 2002. Catch rates in Greenland in the 1990's averaged 750 narwhals a year, many others being killed but not hooked and pulled to shore. In Canada, numbers went from 15,000 in 1984 to 5,000 in 2003. Today in Canada, the number killed each year is around 500, many more going unreported. Killing a narwhal is a badge of honer for a young hunter. Once, there was a 13-year old boy who shot narwhals all day with a rifle, wounding many but landing none.      

A nice male tusk can be can be worth over $9,000, and $25,000 for a skull containing dual tusks. I think that if the narwhal had died naturally, a tusk would be pretty neat to have. If it was killed just for that, I wouldn't want one.

Go to this address for more information:

The head of a dead whale on the ice

Pulling a whale up onto the ice


  1. Dear me - what are we doing to our beloved animals. Thank you for thi svery educative and moving post - Alison

  2. You're welcome. Cetaceans are my passion, and I am all for saving them from the cruelty of hunting. Thank you very much for becoming a follower!

    1. Thank you for informing me

  3. I'm really glad that human teeth aren't valuable, coveted items in cetacean markets. It sure would be terrible to be shot and dragged with a hook for your teeth. This is ridiculous, reminds me of African elephant poaching (you know for ivory tusks). One thing we have to understand is that many people engage in these types of acts to make a living for themselves and their families. This being said, the only solution for such brutality is EDUCATION, and you, Haley are doing an excellent job of educating people through your blog. You should be very proud. I'm sure you will become quite famous in cetacean communities ;).

  4. I know, it is ridiculous. I do understand that people need to make a living for themselves, I still think that it's cruel.

    Thank you very much Professor K. I am very glad that you believe that I can truly make difference someday.