Scientific Name: Monodon monoceros
Other/Previous Names: Monodonmonceros
Taxonomy Group: Mammals
Range: Arctic Ocean
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2004
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
Narwhals (Monodon monoceros) are medium-sized toothed whales that lack a dorsal fin. They are about 1.60 m long at birth (80 kg). Males can grow to 5.40 m (~1935 kg) and females to 4.94 m (~1552 kg). Adult narwhals have only two teeth. In most males, the right tooth remains embedded in the skull and the left forms a magnificent spiral tusk that can extend straight forward over 3 m.
The Baffin Bay population appears to be large (~45,000), although there is uncertainty about numbers, trends, life history parameters, and levels of sustainable hunting. There is similar uncertainty about the much smaller Hudson Bay population (~2,100 mature individuals). Hunting for maktak and the commercially valuable tusk ivory represents the most consistent threat to narwhals. Potential effects of changes in ice coverage caused by climate trends are unknown. The Hudson Bay population could decline by 30% in 30 years if hunting is not closely regulated. Similarly, the Baffin Bay population could be affected if hunting in Greenland is not effectively managed. Numbers removed by hunting increased during the 1990s. Community-based management is monitoring hunting and is attempting to regulate removals. Reliable information about numbers that are killed and not recovered is difficult to obtain.
The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list.
Your opinion is being sought to assist the government of Canada in making an informed decision on whether to add the narwhal, Hudson Bay-Foxe Basin bowhead whales, and Davis Strait-Baffin Bay bowhead whales to the Schedule 1 (the List of Wildlife Species at Risk) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Your input on the impacts of adding these species to the List is important. This workbook has been developed to give you an opportunity to provide Fisheries and Oceans Canada with your feedback, advice, and other comments regarding adding these species to Schedule 1 of SARA (Schedule 1 identifies which species are legally protected under SARA).