The Unicorn of the Ocean

Genesis 1:20a

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life.”

Britain’s towns are replete with their popular, independent fast food restaurants known as fish and chip shops. The fish served at my local fish and chip shop, when I was growing up, were mostly halibut, cod and shrimp. These are also among the favorite foods of the narwhal – that strange and wonderful whale, sometimes known as the unicorn of the ocean.

Narwhals are sociable animals, swimming around in groups of up to 20 individuals. In the summer, many groups come together, forming a larger group of up to 500 or so whales. They can dive deeply, often diving over 2,500 feet over 15 times a day. Baby narwhals are born after 14 months gestation and are usually born singly. They are long-lived – some adults can live up to 50 years.

The thing that makes narwhals so unique is its tusk. Looking like the curved, twisted horn of a unicorn, the tusk is really a long upper jaw tooth which bursts through the creature’s upper lip. Its appearance is so striking that one wants to imagine underwater sword fights, but the truth is that we have very little idea of what this tusk is for. It doesn’t seem to have a purpose in feeding, hunting or defense. And yet it clearly was not created by chance for no particular reason.

God, in His wisdom, knows why He put this peculiar twisted horn on the face of a narwhal. For now, we can only admire its strangeness.