Unicorns of the sea: Dying in the depths

narwhal2_090407

Species are at risk as global warming makes feeding, migration and even breathing critically difficult, writes Geoffrey Lean in the Independent newspaper (UK)

Narwhals, the “unicorns” of the sea, are in particular danger as whales and dolphins, already depleted by centuries of hunting, are driven towards extinction by global warming, a new report reveals.

Whales that depend on the edges of rapidly retreating polar ice – the narwhal, beluga, bowhead and right whales – are especially vulnerable, as are those living in particularly restricted areas, such as the northern end of the Gulf of California. Those that migrate thousands of miles may be at risk from changes along their route.

The narwhal, the male of which has a left tooth that juts eight feet from its skull, has long fascinated the world. Elizabeth I paid