Two field expeditions have been organized for 2006. The first will be in Western Greenland and involve interviews with Greenlandic Inuit on the Traditional Knowledge of the narwhal. Communities that will be visited include Qaanaaq, Disco Bay, Hunde Ejland, and Uummannaaq in Western Greenland. A six-page questionnaire with 46 questions about narwhal anatomy and behavior was prepared and translated into dialects of Inuktitut and Western Greenlandic. Interviews will be recorded by the digital DVD Sony CDX10, a 3 CCD camera and audio CD.
|Expedition 2005 |
Next summer’s investigation will gather information on acoustic, electrical and electromagnetic influences of the narwhal tusk. A new prototype of tusk sensor will be proposed with modifications of a logging unit to accommodate several field conditions and situations.
Additional sound recording and EEG work will be completed. Cryogenic tissue collection will also be attempted with a new protocol to insure success.
As multiple studies are planned to maximize the amount of information gathered for each whale, new systems are being refined to allow minimal field preparation and set-up.
The tusk was examined as a sensory organ based on observations. First, sound and vibration transmission in the tusk have been noted (Best, 1972).
Second, the unique tusk emergence angle, pointing downward and outward from the whale’s longitudinal axis, suggests possible sensory function.
Third, because of the unusual tusk helix, dentinal crystal patterns formed during development may contribute to a Piezo effect.
The primary research goal is to define and describe the purpose and function of the erupted tusk of the narwhal. Studies in anatomy, histology, and cellular biology will be conducted to elucidate tusk function.
Anatomical variations of narwhal and their teeth will be described from field and laboratory dissection and computerized scan analysis
Studies in histology will be directed to the understanding of tusk morphology and the associated spiral micro fibril patterns.
On May 27, 2002, a preliminary field study was conducted to establish a methodology for completing work that would follow in subsequent years. A research description was prepared and translated into Inuktitut for presentation to the Pond Inlet Hamlet Council for approval.
During this visit, I met and traveled to the ice floe edge with David for several days to observe and prepare for the study's field expedition.