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Paul Nicklen / National Geographic

The strange-looking narwhal is uniquely suited to life in the Arctic, feeding on flatfish and other prey at depths of up to 1500 meters under pack ice. Its famous tusk is actually a very long incisor that protrudes from the left side of the male narwhal’s jaw. While the tusk’s purpose is unknown, some scientists believe it is used in mating rituals to impress females or to battle rival suitors. These “sea unicorns” often travel in groups of 15 to 20 and have been known to gather in the hundreds.

Climate Change Impacts

Like all whales, narwhals need to surface for air. However, global warming has been causing more rainstorms in the Arctic, which can quickly turn open areas of water into impenetrable ice sheets, preventing the narwhal from surfacing for air. In fact, oceanographers have enlisted a group of narwhals to track the earth's changing climate by fitting them with sensors to record changes in ocean depth and temperature.

Narwhal

We are connected to each other, to our environment. From faraway places to our own backyard. But climate change is now changing the Earth as we know it, and animals and plants from the Arctic to the Everglades are feeling the consequences.