Evidence of a narwhal (Monodon monoceros) summer ground in Nares Strait

Mads Peter Heide-Jørgensen, Jason E. Box, Rikke G. Hansen, Martin Jakobsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Our limited knowledge of the marine mammal fauna in northernmost Greenland and Canada, specifically north of 80°N, relies largely on opportunistic observations collected during expeditions with different objectives. The narwhal (Monodon monoceros) migrates long distances in response to ice formation and decay and is notoriously skittish, avoiding areas with ice breakers. Scattered observations from the past 20 years, assessed together with historical observations after 1881, suggest that there is a population of narwhals that uses Hall Basin and its adjacent fjord systems—for example, Nares Strait—as a summer ground. Dating the tusks and bones that have been found shows that narwhals were present in this area as far back as nearly 7000 years ago. The wintering locations of these narwhals remain unknown, highlighting the need to investigate whether they are vulnerable to hunting activities in north-west Greenland. By gaining a better understanding of the narwhals’ winter behaviour and potential hunting risks, we can develop more informed conservation and management strategies for this population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9860
Number of pages5
JournalPolar Research
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2024


  • Canadian Arctic Archipelago
  • cetaceans
  • glacier fronts
  • High Arctic
  • whale hunting

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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