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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Canadian scientist and wildlife cinematographer Adam Ravetch, who has previously worked with Planet Experts, recently documented new narwhal behavior while filming in the Arctic. Working with the World Wildlife Fund, Adam set out to solve the mystery of the narwhal’s tusk, which is actually a tooth that can grow up to up 9 feet long.

Researchers had long been puzzled by the spiral tusk’s purpose, at leat until last year, when a study revealed that it’s used as a sensory organ, sending messages to the whale’s brain about changes in ocean water, like salinity, which the narwhal uses to navigate and hunt for food. But those findings were highly controversial, with many scientists speaking out against them, arguing that the tusk, which only appears on males, is more likely there to lure mates.

Now, thanks to the deft camera work of Adam, at least one layer of this mystery has been peeled back. Remarkable footage shows narwhals using their tusks to hunt. Specifically, Adam observed these sea unicorns stunning baitfish with their long teeth before eating them:

This is the first time this behavior has been documented, and the new evidence is sure to add to the debate surrounding these mysterious sea creatures. To learn more about Adam’s shoot, check out this behind-the-scenes video.

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