Monday, August 20, 2012

on narwhals.

okay, let me begin by stating that i am a fairly intelligent person.

i went to a good high school.  i took honors classes and made excellent grades.

i went to college.  i went to graduate school.

i have spent 19 years of my life in school.  i have been a student of life for much longer than that.

so, perhaps you guys can forgive me for this one little thing i seem to have overlooked for my entire life:  NARWHALS ARE REAL ANIMALS! 

like real-real.  like swimming around in the sea as i type this, eating shrimp apparently and rubbing their horns on each other.  freaky.

i have spent my entire life thinking of narwhals as some mythical, magical creature—like unicorns, fairies, centaurs, and dryer sock goblins, if you will.

then, earlier today, when reading one of my new favorite blogs, brittany herself, i had my mind figuratively blown.

i mean, how many of you guys knew that these things were real?!  and why didn’t you tell me?

i think my lack of knowledge here is pretty understandable when i’m bombarded with pop culture and internet trash like this:

but seriously—how did i not know this?!  how did i make it through 19 years of school without ever stumbling upon this little factoid?  i took biology.  i studied evolution.  you would think that an actual mammal with a wicked freaking horn would be discussed in one of those subjects.  but apparently not.

i LOVE aquariums.  i visit them rather frequently.  i have never seen a narwhal.

none of the zoos i’ve visited have had them, either.

that seems to be a serious oversight.  if you want people to know that narwhals actually do, you know, exist, you need to let the people see them.

or maybe that’s the thing.  knowing about the existence of narwhals is a club.  and the first rule of the narwhal club is that you don’t talk about narwhals.  or their actual existence.

well, i’m onto you narwhal club members!  your secret is out, and i’m going to tell everyone i know, and they’re going to join your secret little club, too!

so, of course this discovery set me off on a google firestorm. and Oh.My.God. what i found will amaze you (and possibly horrify you if you ever plan on swimming around in the arctic ocean [which may or may not be why i’ve never seen a living narwhal in a texas zoo, just spinning my wheels here folks]):
  • they are real!
  • they only have two teeth; for males, one tooth grows through the narwhal's upper lip into a swordlike, spiral tusk up to 8.8 feet long! some of them have two.
  • some female narwhals grow these teeth-tusks, too, but theirs aren’t nearly as long or impressive.
  • they are mammals—related to dolphins and orcas.  technically speaking, they’re porpoises
  • they usually swim in groups of 15 to 20, but sometimes are spotted in groups of hundreds—or even several thousand—YIKES!
  • they communicate with clicks and whistles
  • they eat shrimp
  • they can swim really, really deep—like 4500 feet deep without breaking a sweat (or whatever the equivalent water-mammal bodily secretion would be)

now, expand your knowledge and check out this wicked video of narwhals:

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