Species Profile


Scientific Name: Monodon monoceros
Other/Previous Names: Monodon monceros
Taxonomy Group: Mammals
Range: Arctic Ocean
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2004
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status

Individuals of this species may be protected under Schedule 1 under another name; for more information see Schedule 1, the A-Z Species List, or if applicable, the Related Species table below.

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Image of Narwhal


Federal Protection

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.



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.

6 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the narwhal Monodon monoceros in Canada (2005)

    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.

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Assessment - Narwhal (2005)

    Designated Not at Risk in April 1986 and April 1987. Status re-examined and designated Special Concern in November 2004. Last assessment based on an update status report.

Response Statements

  • Response Statements - Narwhal (2005)

    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.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2005 (2005)

    2005 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Consultation Documents