News

A Pod of Beluga Whales Adopted a Lost Narwhal

A narwhal -- or a sea unicorn to those whose first language is meme -- has been spotted in Canada's St. Lawrence River. That's more than 600 miles south of the frigid Arctic waters where narwhals usually hang out. 

Stranger yet, the narwhal appears to have been adopted by a pod of beluga whales, reports the CBC.  The frolic was filmed by the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM), back in August as they continued research on a group of belugas. Identified by markings on its back, they say it's the same narwhal researchers have spotted in the St. Lawrence in each of the last two years.

"It behaves like it was one of the boys," Robert Michaud, GREMM's president and scientific director, told the CBC. He added that it has gained acceptance in the group and behaves like any other member of the pod. "It’s a like a big social ball of young juveniles that are playing some social, sexual games."

"I don't think it should surprise people," Martin Nweeia, a researcher and narwhal expert at Harvard, told the CBC. "I think it shows ... the compassion and the openness of other species to welcome another member that may not look or act the same. And maybe that's a good lesson for everyone."

This is so damn charming you can't even try to make seem less inspired by Lisa Frank. (At least, as long as you ignore that the narwhal is likely outside of its natural habit due to climate change, according to GREMM researchers. It's also impacted beluga behavior.) You could draw a Snidely Whiplash mustache on all the whales and call them a menace and it wouldn't do anything to diminish the charm here.

h/t Smithsonian Magazine

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record but has never met the fingernail lady. Follow him @dlukenelson. dnelson at thrillist dot com