Southern Narwhal

Tusked Cetacean of the Antarctic. Variant names: Sea unicorn, Uni. Physical description: Whale with a long tusk. Length, 10 feet.

Distribution: South Atlantic Ocean; Antarctic waters.

Significant sightings: On October 5, 1615, Dutch explorer Willem Corneliszoon Schouten noted in his journal that one of his ships was rammed by a sea monster in the mid-Atlantic. The crew later found a foot-long horn stuck in the prow.

On February 3, 1620, Augustin de Beaulieu observed a dark-blue, porpoiselike animal with a high fin and a tusk about 1-2 feet long in the South Atlantic Ocean off South Africa.

On December 17, 1892, the crew of the ship Balaena spotted a narwhal-like animal in the Bransfield Strait off the Antarctic Peninsula. Possible explanations:

(1) A Swordfish (Xiphias gladius) sword looks like a tusk or horn, but the swordfish is tropical.

(2) An unrecognized variety of Narwhal (Monodon monoceros) that lives in Antarctic waters. Narwhals are known only from above the Arctic Circle.

(3) A surviving Double-tusked whale (Odobenocetopsperuvianus), known from a single skull found in 1993 in southern Peru that dates from the Pliocene, 5 million years ago. Its tusks, however, pointed downward, walrus-fashion.

Sources: Willem Corneliszoon Schouten, Journal ou description du merveilleux voyage de Guillaume Schouten (Amsterdam: Willem Janson, 1618), pp. 9-10; Augustin de Beaulieu, "Mémoires du voyage aux Indes Orientales du général Beaulieu," in Melchisédec Thévenot, ed., Relations de divers voyages curieux (Paris: Thomas Moette, 1696), pp. 5-6; W. G. Burn Murdoch, From Edinburgh to the Antarctic: An Artist's Notes and Sketches during the Dundee Antarctic Expedition ofi1892—93 (London: Longmans, Green, 1894), p. 209; Darren Naish, "The Walrus Whales," Exotic Zoology 5, no. 4 (July-August 1998): 1-2.

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