If hunting is good or bad is debated very much and is probably a topic of debate all around the world. In some parts of the world, hunting is a necessity; something that they just can’t live without, for example, the Inuit people hunt Narwhals (a species of whale) also known as the unicorn of the sea or by its other name, Corpse Whale.
The narwhals are also known by its scientific name Monodon Monoceros, though the name is completely wrong since Monodon Monoceros means ‘One tooth…One horn’ but the Narwhal actually has zero horns and two teeth.
If you wanted to find our unicorn of the sea, your best bet might be to start in the Arctic Ocean off Canada, perhaps in Baffin or Hudson Bay. If you’re stuck out there, you could venture to Greenland or Svalbard.
An adult narwhal has a mottled dark gray or black and white color. If you see a little gray narwhal with no white patches, that’s a baby, whereas a completely white narwhal is probably an old whale. Narwhals travel in groups. A female narwhal weighs in at around 998 kg, with males at 1,588 kg. An adult female will be about 400cm long, a male about 457cm.
Narwhals, like other toothed whales, have big brains in relation to their body size. Toothed whales such as the narwhal display human-like behavior we associate only with apes, like recognizing themselves in the mirror and understanding abstract ideas.
The narwhal swims through deep waters in search of its prey and use echolocation to search for prey. All the nerves on the outside of the narwhal tusk allow the whale to detect water pressure, temperature, and salinity. It might even be able to detect barometric pressure when it’s above the water’s surface.
The narwhal tooth is the only straight tusk in the world. The tusk is flexible, able to bend about a foot in any direction without breaking.
Inughuits speak the Inuktu Language. It is a dialect of the Greenlandic Inuktitut Language which is the national language of Greenland. Inughuit people live north of the Arctic circle on the west coast of Greenland in Pituffik also known as Thule.
In Northern Greenland, temperatures can plummet to minus 40 degrees Celsius where winter darkness prevails 24 hours a day. The Inughuits diet consists of walrus and whale blubber. Inughuits make clothing out of the skins from the animals they hunt. These clothes keep them safe from the cold.
Since vegetation cannot be grown in the Arctic, the mattak or blubber of the Narwhal is the only way in which the Inughuits can obtain vitamins and minerals. The blubber is also used as light and heat which is much needed in the arctic where there is a bitter coldness of -40 degrees Celsius and numerous amounts of darkness in winter. The Narwhals’ tusk is used for harpoons and other hunting implements. Inughuits do not kill for sport and use every part of the Narwhal.
Only one annual supply ship of imported goods makes it through the ice to Qaanaaq and the small twice-weekly plane from West Greenland can only carry a certain amount of goods. This is insufficient.
Narwhals are the only source of food available to the Inughuits. In winter the blubber is their only source of heat and light. The Inughuits survive by feeding and utilizing parts of the Narwhal without whom they would starve or freeze to death.
As others are unable to provide enough food for the Inughuit community, the Inughuits have to find their own and the best solution is hunting. Hunting Narwhal is necessary for the survival of the Inughuits but this point is debatable.
Thus whatever society or other people think about the hunting of Narwhals, they would not benefit the Narwhals or the Inughuit people.
For the Inughuit people, hunting narwhals is essential for their survival and for the Narwhals; being hunted costs them their life and maybe even the existence of their own species.
Hunting may not be acceptable but hunting for survival is a necessity that cannot be barred unless a proper alternative is provided.
Thus instead of blaming those who hunt and criticizing others, maybe it’s time to see how the problem can be solved to benefit both ends of the sword.
Since… an animal treasures its life, but so does a man.
Neither wants to die.
Is hunting good or bad? The debate continues…