Like many tusked animals, this arctic whale has a majestic quality to it. In medieval times, its long, straight tusk was often given to royalty, passed off as a "unicorn horn." In the 16th century, a narwhal tusk worth £10,000 was given to Queen Elizabeth. Today, the narwhal still holds our interest, and its tusk remains one of the most mysterious things about these creatures.
Narwhal tusks grow throughout the animals' entire lives and can reach incredible lengths. While the tusk as a whole is straight, the only straight tusk we know of, a closer look reveals that as it grows, it spirals to the left.
Its tough core and soft outer layer result in a tusk that is both strong and flexible. It can bend significantly without cracking, which is important for a tusk as long as the narwhals'.
Unlike their close relatives, beluga whales, narwhals do not thrive in captivity. In the '60s and '70s, several attempts at capturing and keeping narwhals resulted in all of the animals dying within several months. All narwhals kept in captivity have died. Some animals simply aren't meant to be captured.