Q&A Summer Session: “Are Narlugas real?” Yes they are!


The name “Narluga” could belong to an hybrid whale, originating from breeding of a narwhal and a beluga. Is this creature real? If yes, what could this mean for these Arctic whales populations?

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Yes they are!

The first encounter was in 1980, when a group of Inuit from Wstern Greenland caught a trio of “weird whales” while hunting. Those whales were grey and had intermediate morphological features between narwhal and belugas. The first scientist proposing the existence of this creature was Mads Peter Heide-Jørgensen after studying the skull morphology of suspected narlugas. A genetic study by Eling Lorensen from the National History Museum of Denmark confirmed that the narlug is indeed a hybrid whale with a narwhal mum and a beluga dad.

How could this be possible? Maybe, the change in ice extension is allowing species that before were usually isolated to meet during breeding period and mix. If, as often happens, these hybrids are infertile the increase of cross-species inbreeding could lead to the genetic death of already very threatened populations.

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