Baby Narwhal: 10 Incredible Narwhal Fact & Incredible Pictures

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Updated: August 25, 2023
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Narwhal, male Monodon monoceros swimming in the ocean

Male narwhals have a long tusk-like tooth!

©Dotted Yeti/Shutterstock.com

Narwhals have a life expectancy of 25 years on average; however, they can live up to 50 years. After six to eight years of age, females begin having babies, also known as calves. A narwhal gives birth to a baby after 14 months of gestation. Continue reading to find out more about baby narwhals!

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Narwhals consume Greenland halibut, arctic and polar fish, squid, and shrimp.

1. What Are Baby Narwhals Called?

Narwhal Baby - A picture of a Beluga Whale Baby

Narwhal babies are notoriously hard to photograph but look like juvenile beluga whales, seen here.

©CampCrazy Photography/Shutterstock.com

Every three years, a narwhal gives birth to a baby, which is referred to as a calf in the scientific community.

2. How Much Does a Baby Narwhal Weigh?

Narwhal calves can weigh as much as 175 pounds when they are born. Adult males can weigh up to 4,000 pounds at their heaviest.

3. How Big Is a Baby Narwhal?

When narwhals are born, they are approximately 5 feet in length. Females achieve maturity at an estimated age of six to nine years when they reach an average length of approximately 11.5 feet.

4. What Do Baby Narwhals Look Like?

Animals That Have Tusks-Narwhal

While male narwhals have long tusks, most female narwhals don’t have tusks that are visible.

©iStock.com/dottedhippo

A thin layer of blubber forms on newborn narwhal calves as they nurse their mother’s milk, which is rich in fat. They are typically a speckled gray in color when born. They are the darkest when young and lighten up with age.

Male tail flukes, which are more like two wings attached to the tail flipper, have less sweep. This is thought to be an adaptation to counterbalance the male tusk’s drag.

5. Do Baby Narwhals Have Horns?

Male narwhal calves’ tusks develop slowly after birth and are not present at the time of birth.

6. What Do Baby Narwhals Eat?

narwhals swimming in arctic

Calves will gain experience and survival strategies if they stay near their mothers.

©JenDeVos/ via Getty Images

For almost 20 months, calves are entirely dependent on their mothers’ milk. If they stay near their mother, calves have plenty of opportunities to gain experience and survival strategies during nursing.

After nursing, they will go on to consume Greenland halibut, arctic and polar fish, squid, and shrimp. These creatures can be observed nibbling on the edges of ice floes and swimming in freezing waters during the summer.

7. How Long Does a Baby Narwhal Spend with Its Mother?

Narwhal Skull - Skull with Tusk Attached

Once narwhals are fully grown their tusks can reach up to 10 feet in length!

©Obs70/Shutterstock.com

In its first 20 months of life, the calf spends most of its time with its mother. A calf is typically born in bays or inlets where the water is deep enough to accommodate the birth of the young animal.

Narwhal calves will remain with their mother and nurse for a year until becoming increasingly self-sufficient and joining the rest of the pod in the hunt for prey and food. Narwhals migrate in groups, as do many other types of whales, to avoid becoming separated from one another.

8. Can Narwhals Have Babies with Other Whales?

Baby Narwhal - Narwhal and Beluga Side by Side

Belugas (above) and narwhals sometimes mate to create hybrid offspring.

©Alona K/Shutterstock.com

Narwhal-beluga whale hybrids have been spotted on hunting missions for food, according to reports. The progeny of a beluga male and a narwhal female are these hybrids. At least three narwhal and beluga hybrids have been discovered.

It’s yet unclear if these hybrids can reproduce. In one hybrid hunted, the unusual skull traits showed that this whale fed on the seabed, like walruses, indicating distinct eating habits from that of either parent species.

9. What is the Most Common Cause of Death in Baby Narwhals?

Starvation and orca predation are the most common causes of death in young narwhals.

10. How Long Do Narwhals Live?

Narwhal

Research suggests that Narwhals may live even longer, perhaps upwards of 75+ years.

©Dotted Yeti/Shutterstock.com

Narwhals can live for up to 50 years and have a life expectancy of 25 years or higher.

In Conclusion

Narwhals are on the verge of extinction, and there is evidence of a drop in several of their subpopulations. Climate change has made narwhals one of the most vulnerable Arctic marine mammals. As sea ice melts, it is possible that climate change may expose more narwhals to the open ocean, increasing their vulnerability to poaching.

Narwhals must be safeguarded, their tusks must not be sold in the illicit wildlife trade together with those of other animals, and the effects of ice pack loss on their habitats, breeding sites, and hunting areas must be monitored.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Alona K/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Jennifer Gaeng is a writer at A-Z-Animals focused on animals, lakes, and fishing. With over 15 years of collective experience in writing and researching, Jennifer has honed her skills in various niches, including nature, animals, family care, and self-care. Hailing from Missouri, Jennifer finds inspiration in spending quality time with her loved ones. Her creative spirit extends beyond her writing endeavors, as she finds joy in the art of drawing and immersing herself in the beauty of nature.

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