As of May 13th, sea-ice in the Baffin Bay system is changing rapidly now, with already large areas of open water at the northern end (an area commonly referred to as the Northwater Polynya, where due to factors such as water circulation, wind and upwellings extensive areas of open water can usually be found year round despite bone-chilling low air temperatures). The two remaining narwhals are moving steadily northwards now, along the Canadian continental shelf, just beyond the edge of the landfast ice. The satellite images show increasing numbers of large leads amidst the mobile pack ice, allowing these mammals plenty of breathing options.
As usually happens with these radios, after a few months, the number of functioning units decreases – often battery failure or some electronic problem, or the pack eventually detaches from the narwhal. So, we are down to 2 transmitting radios now. And the early spring changes in the annual ice cover are probably what’s causing one of these animals to move – as ice leads start to open up more. This is also the breeding/mating time for most narwhal.
We’re almost at the spring equinox, and at even at 67 degrees N, just north of the Arctic Circle, where our 3 remaining transmitting narwhal have been wintering, things are shifting fast now! With rapidly lengthening days now, warmer daytime temperatures and some melt of sea ice already underway, these narwhal have begun to move northwards in the last few days. At this time of year narwhal breed too.