Rare drone footage could shed light on narwhal breeding grounds in the Russian Arctic

The iconic, but threatened species lives in the Arctic and North Atlantic.

By Reuters - July 6, 2021

Russian researchers found groups of narwhals near Franz Josef Land during a recent expedition to the Russian Arctic. According to preliminary conclusions, narwhals are seasonal inhabitants of this water area and are reproducing in some areas there.

This expedition is a part of a project “Narwhal,” the first comprehensive research project aimed at studying, protecting, and popularizing the Arctic cetacean. The goal of the project is to study the narwhal population in the waters of Russia, and to form a program for the protection of the species and its habitat.

The head of the project Mikhail Bergart told Reuters, the researchers needed more observations to determine the dynamics of the population.

“We must understand where it goes and where from it comes in there or if it lives there permanently. We cannot answer these questions for sure because we came both times at the same season,” he said.

Narwhal is a Red List species of cetaceans with a characteristic tusk. The narwhal lives in the waters of the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic, including the waters around Franz Josef Land and the Northern Island of Novaya Zemlya, as well as around the northern Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, the Canadian archipelago, and the shores of Greenland.