Search: narwhal captivity
Why: I was just making a Ranker list of famous people who have been immortalized in Google Doodles, and I to play with the the interactive one for my birthday buddy, Jules Verne. You can see narwhals at 0:15.
Answer: Kind of! Many have tried, at least. Transcript from this video:
Attempts at keeping narwhals in enclosures in the late-1960s and early-1970s ended in failure, the animals dying within a few months. Their long, sensitive tusks post a great obstacle in successfully keeping captive narwhals. It would require not only a very large aquarium space, but consideration of several factors reference to the narwhals' physical and mental well-being.Here is a sad article about a baby narwhal named Umiak who died at the New York Aquarium on Coney Island in 1969.
It's unlikely the narwhals will be seen in a zoo or aquarium any time within the near future. Considering the concern that many have for keeping large marine mammals - like whales and dolphins - in captivity, this may be for the best.
Umiak was captured by Eskimos after they had killed its mother for meat and the baby subsequently followed the Eskimos' canoe, apparently as a substitute mother.Get out of here.
The narwhal (Monodon monoceros) is considered a "medium-sized whale," with males measuring 13-18 ft. long (horn not included). They live in pods in the Arctic waters around Russia, Canada, and Greenland. Some lady narwhals have tusks, and some narwhals even grow two tusks!
Magnificent! My horn can pierce the sky!
Source: YouTube, WWF
The More You Know: What do narwhals do with their long beautiful horns? From a 2005 New York Times article:
Scientists have long tried to explain why a stocky whale that lives in arctic waters, feeding on cod and other creatures that flourish amid the pack ice, should wield such a long tusk. The theories about how the narwhal uses the tusk have included breaking ice, spearing fish, piercing ships, transmitting sound, shedding excess body heat, poking the seabed for food, wooing females, defending baby narwhals and establishing dominance in social hierarchies.
But a team of scientists has made a startling discovery: the tusk, it turns out, forms a sensory organ of exceptional size and sensitivity, making the living appendage one of the planet's most remarkable, and one that in some ways outdoes its own mythology.
The find came when the team turned an electron microscope on the tusk's material and found new subtleties of dental anatomy. The close-ups showed that 10 million nerve endings tunnel from the tusk's core toward its outer surface, communicating with the outside world. The scientists say the nerves can detect subtle changes of temperature, pressure, particle gradients and probably much else, giving the animal unique insights.
"This whale is intent on understanding its environment," said the team's leader. Contrary to common views, he said, "The tusk is not about guys duking it out with sticks and swords."So sensitive.