By Katy Gill
This delighted young narwhal has finally found companionship, after being adopted into a school of beluga whales.
The juvenile narwhal, a creature often called the unicorn of the ocean, was spotted early July, swimming among almost a dozen white belugas in the St Lawrence River, Quebec, Canada.
Staff of Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM), a non-profit charity founded for researching and educating individuals about marine mammals, were out documenting the school of belugas when they were pleasantly surprised to notice that this familiar group had taken the young narwhal on board.
Narwhals, which are more commonly known for their large ‘tusk’ that is formed from a protruding canine tooth, aren’t witnessed very often by humans.
They typically reside in the arctic waters surrounding Greenland, Canada and Russia.
Marie-Eve Muller, an editor for GREMM, said: “We head out to sea to capture a new glimpse of the daily lives of belugas under the surface – in particular, we want to better understand how and why belugas use a given habitat.
“Once we had tracked and photo-identified a group of around 50 to 60 belugas, we decided to launch the drone to get more clearer angles.
“After a few minutes in the air, a group of belugas resurfaced and, to our surprise, a narwhal was among them.
“After the initial excitement of this discovery, our first question was: is this the same individual as the one observed in 2016 and 2017?
“Again, after photographing the vagrant narwhal as well as his beluga companions from both sides, we were able to confirm that it was indeed the same narwhal.
“We saw the juvenile swimming closely with the group of belugas, which are all believed to be male, appearing to act as one of the boys and not realising he wasn’t one of them.”
Carrying a conservation status of a ‘near threatened’ species, the carnivorous narwhal is known to reach around a tonne in weight, 17 feet in length and has an extra 8-plus-foot-long horn protruding from between their eyes and mouth.