What is a unicorn?First of all let us define what unicorns are. Unicorns, according to wikipedia, are legendary creature with a single large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead. Throughout history and in different countries unicorns had been called different names, from Alicorn to Heraldry in Scotland to the Chinese unicorn called quilin. However, unicorns like creature could also be found in nature. Most of them could are land animals but there are few that live in the sea. In this blog, we would focus our attention on our water friends.
Narwhal - The unicorn of the sea
This medium-sized whale, related to the beluga whale, are commonly known as the unicorn of the sea. Most commonly found in Russian, Canadian and Greenland artics, the narwhal feeds on flatfish under dense pack ice during winter and polar cod during summer. These majestic creatures could live up to 50 years and could weigh up to 1600 kg or 3503 lbs or 2 tons.
The unicorn part of narwhal is made up of ivory, which is actually a giant tooth, where it could reach up to 10 feet in length. Because of this, they have been harvested for hundreds of years by the Inuit people of Canada and Greenland. Also during the 5th to 15th centuries, the tusk of the narwhal was commonly sold as a unicorn horn, a precious collection for royalties and collectors. It had been said that even Queen Elizabeth I spend £10,000 for one. Even with all the harvesting of the tusk, the narwhal's population had been increasing and the International Union for Conservation of Nature had lowered its status to Least Concern.
In literature, this mammal is largely mentioned in the book Lore of the Unicorn. The book explores the history of the unicorn like where it came from, what animals were considered as a unicorn, and how it changes throughout the history. In another more famous book, Moby-Dick, the author claims a narwhal tusk hung for "a long period" in Windsor Castle and that the Danish kings made their thrones from narwhal tusks.
Here are some more video information about the unicorn of the sea.
Part of the Acanthuridae family, some of the fishes in this family have hornlike extension thus making them look like unicorns. There are 20 fishes in the family and are mostly found in Indo-Pacific from Africa, Indonesia, Philippines, Hawaii and Australia. They mostly live around coral reefs and eat mostly algea. Some of the famous fish within the family are the Bluespine unicornfish and Whitemargin unicornfish.
Bluespine unicornfish is also known as short-nose unicornfish, kala in Hawaii and dawa in New Caledonia. They have a long horn projecting from between the eyes extending out to the front of the mouth, making them the unicorn of fishes. They usually travel in a small group or schools. They feed on red algae as well as zooplankton such as crab larvae and other small invertebrates.
Whitemargin unicornfish, Naso annulatus, is one of the largest member of the Acanthuridae family. One whitemargin unicorn could reach up to 100cm in length. Commonly found in shallow waters, these species live in the reefs at the depth range of 1 – 60 m i.e. up to 197 feet. The fish never use this horn as a weapon or even for self-defense but instead use their sharp scalpel-like spines by their tails as a weapon.
The unicorn shrimp, Plesionika narval, commonly found in cold water and in a depth of 910m in caverns. During the day, the unicorn shrimp or narval, lives in burrows in the mud or sand where it prefers and at night it can be seen in large groups in the caves. They can grow up to 10cm and like other shrimps, it starts life as a male and changes to female with maturity. It is usually found in Angola, the Mediterranean Sea and French Polynesia. This unicorn shrimp is a carnivore, it eats any animal food from shrimp, pieces of fish, shellfish, etc.