January 22nd, 2015 | By Prisca Campbell
There is a story circulating that an American has been sentenced for his role in a narwhal tusk smuggling ring. As we are in the business of showing travellers Arctic wildlife in their natural habitat, not surprisingly we support any effort to conserve and protect the whales. We also support the right of the North’s indigenous peoples to harvest Arctic mammals as they have for thousands of years.
What poachers see as a 9 foot long piece of ivory worth thousands of dollars is, in fact, a marvellous tool for sensing the environment through which the narwhal swim. A tusk is replete with millions of nerve endings. Science has confirmed what wizards believed for centuries, a narwhal tusk has magical properties. That aura of magic and mystery draw adventure travellers to Baffin Island, the narwhal capital of the world.
Since 2000, an international collaboration with an interdisciplinary approach has been studying the tusk of the narwhal under the name Narwhal Tusk Research.