2008 Photo Contest, Nature, 2nd prize

Paul Nicklen

National Geographic

01 January, 2006

A pod of male narwhal rests in a melt-hole in the spring sea ice. Tusks of the narwhal whale were once sold as unicorn horns and were immensely valuable. Today narwhal ivory can still fetch large sums and the whales are legally hunted by some Inuit groups. Hunters shoot the whales for their ivory and some skin, but much of the meat goes to waste. Two narwhals surface to breathe. After long dives they are desperate for air. Narwhal tusks fetch large sums, and the whales are legally hunted by some Inuit groups. The whales must be killed as they surface for air, while their lungs are full. Otherwise they will sink into the ocean. The replacement of traditional weapons by rifles has resulted in many more narwhal being killed or wounded than being retrieved.

About the photographer

Paul Nicklen

As a young boy, Paul Nicklen, a Canadian-born polar specialist and marine biologist, moved to Baffin Island and spent his childhood among the Inuit people. From them he learned t...

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