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Drones Prove Narwhals Hunt with Their Tusks

May 12, 2017

That beautiful horn isn't just for looks
New aerial drone footage shows packs of narwhals using their tusks to stun fish while hunting. The footage confirms traditional Inuit knowledge and scientific theories.

In collaboration with the community of Pond Inlet, this first-of-its kind footage was captured by Canadian scientists from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the University of Windsor, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada, the Vancouver Aquarium, and by Arctic Bear Productions.

Scientists believe that the primary function of the narwhal’s tusk is sexual selection (they are certainly impressive), but this new footage confirms that the tusks serve as multipurpose tools for the unicorns of the sea — and raises some new questions for researchers.

David Miller, president and CEO of WWF Canada, explained in a press release that while the video is fascinating and exciting to watch, it has important implications for the preservation of narwhals and other Arctic species.

"As the Arctic warms and development pressure increases, it will be important to understand how narwhal are using their habitat during their annual migration,” he said. “With this information in hand, we can work to minimize the effects of human activities on narwhal.”

This is yet another of many stories documenting how drones can benefit in wildlife research and conservation. But animals and drones don’t always mix — check out a variety of Drone360 stories about animals and drones here.