Arctic Climate Change and Fossil Fuel Pollution is Altering Narwhal Tusks

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Study of Narwhal Tusks Reveals a Swiftly Changing Arctic

By Alex Fox/Smithsonianmag.com

Male narwhals grow spiraling tusks throughout their lives that can reach lengths of up to ten feet. Now, analysis of these tusks reveals narwhals in the Arctic are altering their diets as climate change reduces the extent of sea ice. Warming and fossil fuel pollution may also be contributing to a large increase in concentrations of the toxic heavy metal mercury accumulating in the whales’ bodies, reports Molly Taft for Gizmodo.

The research, published last month in the journal Current Biology, looked at the chemical composition of ten tusks from whales killed by Inuit subsistence hunters off the coast of northwest Greenland, reports Ellie Shechet for Popular Science.

Since a narwhal’s tusk, which is actually a specialized tooth, grows in annual layers like the rings of a tree trunk, researchers can study the layers to look back in time, reports Matt Simon for Wired.

“Each of the individual layers in a tree gives you a lot of information about the condition of the tree in that year of growth,” Jean-Pierre Desforges, a wildlife toxicologist at McGill University, tells Gizmodo. “It’s the exact same way with a narwhal tusk.

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Biography
Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.

She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – one daughter-in-law; Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with husband Gordon Duff, many cats, and two rescue pups.

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