Narwhals are unique creatures which never cease to amaze us. However, it turns out they are a lot more vulnerable than we thought, as human interference might actually cost them their lives. They are easily stressed and disturbed, and their response to such situation puts them in great danger.
Narwhals suffer extreme stress when they face human threats
Narwhals used to live in distant areas, where they could be completely isolated from human populations. Sometimes, the Inuit hunted them, but they mostly had to be afraid of natural predators, such as orcas or polar bears.
However, global warming caused the gradual decline of the Arctic layer of ice. This means that humans could advance and get closer to these creatures, and their activities managed to put a great disturbance on their habitat. As people started extracting oil, fishing for commercial purposes, and then transporting all this fish to land, the narwhals got more and more stressed.
Therefore, a team of researchers developed a study on the human effects on these populations of narwhals. Whenever they get surprised by these disturbing activities, they react to stress in ways extremely harmful for their health.
Their response to the human threat puts their heart in danger
There are three ways they can respond to a threat, freeze, flee, or fight. Whenever a natural predator appears, they slowly dive into the depths. This means their heart is not affected. However, when a human danger appears, they react through a combination of responses, a freeze-flee.
To analyze the effects of this technique, researchers put heart monitors on the narwhals. They noticed how they made rapid dives to escape the danger, and then their heart rate decreased to extremely low levels. This is bad for them, as they also do not conserve oxygen whenever this happens.
The human danger is quite new for narwhals, meaning that they didn’t have the time to develop a healthy response to the attacks. Meanwhile, they might suffer great consequences, and their populations might get seriously affected.