Friday, April 25, 2008

Meet the Narwhal

If you read that headline and thought, "what the hell is a narwhal," you're not the only one. Apparently, it is a horned whale that is more vulnerable to warming water in the Arctic than polar bears.

The polar bear has become an icon of global warming vulnerability, but a new study found an Arctic mammal that may be even more at risk to climate change: the narwhal.

The narwhal, a whale with a long spiral tusk that inspired the myth of the unicorn, edged out the polar bear for the ranking of most potentially vulnerable in a climate change risk analysis of Arctic marine mammals.

The study was published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Ecological Applications. Polar bears are considered marine mammals because they are dependent on the water and are included as a species in the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The narwhal is an ugly little beast. Don't expect environmentalists to throw the polar bear overboard in favor of it.

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