A young Inuk hunter from the Nunavut community of Arctic Bay has bagged a rare doubled-tusked narwhal whose ivory should fetch tens of thousands of dollars.
Tom Naqitarvik, 18, shot the five-metre narwhal this month in Admiralty Bay, a three-hour snowmobile ride from his home. As he pulled it from the sea, he discovered it had two tusks.
"It was unbelievable. I was too excited," he told the Edmonton Journal.
The male Arctic whale, known as the "unicorn of the sea," has a long, spiraled ivory tusk jutting from its mouth. The tusk develops from one of two teeth and grows to a length of up to three metres.
On rare occasions, both teeth form tusks. Scientists don't know why or how often it happens, but the double-tusked animals are extremely valuable.
Naqitarvik's narwal has one tusk 2.1 metres long and another measuring 1.9 metres.
"Last year, from Iqaluit, somebody caught a double-tusk, like six feet long, and this year he sold it for $90,000," he said.
Naqitarvik said he's already received a call from a person in Montreal offering him $30,000. He plans to use the internet to auction it to the highest bidder.
Naqitarvik, the youngest of 12 children, shot his first narwhal at age 12. He said his father didn't believe it when he first heard the news of the double-tusker.
"Our parents were down south at the time and when mom found out she was laughing and almost crying," Tom's sister Darlene Naqitarvik said. "We are very proud of our baby brother."