NORWALK, Conn. - One of the top narwhal researchers in the country, Dr. Martin Nweeia, a dentist in Sharon, will share what he has learned about “the unicorns of the sea” in a talk Monday, April 7, at 8 p.m. at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.
It’s only natural that he has an interest in teeth. But he has a particular interest in a tooth of note: the long single spiraling tusk of the mysterious, almost mythical narwhal.
The narwhal (Monodon monoceros) is one of the rarest whales in the world. An Arctic species, narwhals are elusive and mysterious, and very distinct in appearance because of their tusk, which actually is a tooth that grows from the upper jaw of males. The tusks can reach 9 feet long.
Nweeia is principal investigator and founder of Narwhal Tooth Expeditions and Research Investigation, whose aim is to determine the purpose and function of narwhal tusks. He directs expedition field studies, laboratory analysis and a traditional study of Inuit and Greenlandic elders – all to address the purpose of the narwhal tusk that has puzzled the science world for over 200 years.
He is a National Fellow of the Explorers Club, and has been awarded grants for his research from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Harvard University, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Geographic Society. He was a Graduate Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution, and currently is a research associate in the Marine Mammal Program at the Smithsonian.
His work on narwhals has been featured in several national magazines, and he was one of the investigators included in the 2005 National Geographic documentary “Masters of the Arctic Ice.” He also was featured online as National Geographic’s “Explorer of the Week” in September 2012.
Tickets for Nweeia’s talk are priced at $10, or $8 for Aquarium members.
To reserve tickets or for more details about the narwhal lecture, call 203-852-0700 or go to www.maritimeaquarium.org .