For questions and ordering call    1.800.206.6544 (Canada)  +1.416.232.0376 (International)

Narwhal Tusks

See our galleries of individual narwhal tusks for sale below:#1 Tusks, #2 Tusks, #3 Craft Tusks, Tusk Pieces, and Rare Tusks

Overview

There are a few hundred tusks from narwhal that are legally killed for food each year by the Inuit in northern Canada.  The narwhal hunt also offers a strong bonding experience for members of the community and the sale of the tusks benefits the hunters.

Tusks that are not used in the local communities for arts and crafts are often available for sale in Canada or for export with the proper permits to most countries other than the United States.  There is no commercial hunting of narwhals.  Permission to hunt a narwhal is only granted to an Inuk with the understanding that the meat from the animal must not be wasted.  It is illegal for someone other than an Inuk to hunt narwhal. Our tusks typically come from five different communities in the Canadian Arctic, including Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet, Clyde River, and Qikiqtarjuaq (formerly known as Broughton Island).

We will not buy or sell narwhal tusks from communities that do not have a Non-Detriment Finding (NDF) with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.  Here is a list of communities that do not have a NDF for 2012:

  • Grise Fiord - Parry Channel
    Jones Sound
    Smith Sound

Our supplies of tusks in various lengths and grades vary during the course of the year.  The price of the tusks varies with the length, shape, overall appearance, and quality of the tip.

The rare tusks are unique tusks that are not typical narwhal tusks. These include baby narwhal embedded teeth, double tusks, and tusks with special features that we rarely come across.

The #1 quality tusks are the best available.  They are mostly straight, have good color, a nice spiral, and a good or naturally worn tip.  These tusks are frequently out of stock for much of the year because of the limited supply and the high demand for the best tusks available.  The hunt takes place each summer and the tusks are brought down by ship at the end of the summer.  The fresh supplies of tusks usually arrive in November or December.

The #2 quality tusks are still nice, but may have a slight bend, less pronounced spiral, and a rounded or worn or worked tip.  They look great but are not as nice as the #1 quality.

The #3 craft quality tusks may have a significant bend and/or a broken tip.  They can be used for decoration, teaching, or cut up for craft projects.

We do not have small pieces laying around to sell for craft projects.  We only stock full tusks with tags.

Genus and species:  Monodon monoceros.  Wild.  CITES II.

Native American Product of Canada

Index of Galleries and Information Below

Galleries of Tusks Available for Sale:

#1 Tusks

#2 Tusks

#3 Craft Tusks

Tusk Pieces

Rare Tusks

Selection Process

Inspection in Toronto

Ordering and Payment Terms for International Orders

Sales within Ontario

Sales within Canada

Purchases of Tusks within Canada

Export Controls from Canada

Import Controls in Your Country

Shipping

Return Policy

Care of the Tusks

Cleaning Tusks

Using Tusks for Arts and Crafts and Other Legal Questions

Appraisals

Press Inquiries

Genus and Species

What is CITES?

Notes on the Tusks

Why do we Sell Narwhal Tusks?

The Illegal Trade in Narwhal Tusks

Testimonials

Gallery of #1 Narwhal Tusks In Stock and Ready for Sale

Exportable with the proper permits to most countries other than Australia, Mexico, the Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S. 

You get the exact tusk shown when ordering by number.

If they are not marked sold or sale pending, the are most likely available.

The tusks are listed below in order by harvest tag number, not size or price. Detailed ordering information is provided below these gallery pictures.  Just scroll down. Tusks marked SALE PENDING are essentially sold and are just awaiting permits for export.

#1 Narwhal Tusk

Order Code: CR-156-G129

Exportable.

This tusk is from the 2014 season. 

Length: 171 cm, 67.3", 5.6 feet
Width at middle: 3 cm, 1.2"
Width at base: 4 cm, 1.6"
Circumference at base: 14 cm, 5.5"
Weight: 2.56 kilograms or 5.64 pounds

Cable Tag: 129
Harvested From: Arctic Bay

Price: US$4,500.00

Close-up views: close-up 1, close-up 2, close-up 3, close-up 4, close-up 5, close-up 6

#1 Narwhal Tusk

Order Code: CR-156-G132

Exportable.

This tusk is from the 2014 season. 

Length: 173 cm, 68.1", 5.7 feet
Width at middle: 4 cm, 1.6"
Width at base: 4 cm, 1.6"
Circumference at base: 14 cm, 5.5"
Weight: 2.56 kilograms or 5.64 pounds

Cable Tag: 132
Harvested From: Arctic Bay

Price: US$4,500.00

Close-up views: close-up 1, close-up 2, close-up 3, close-up 4, close-up 5

#1 Narwhal Tusk

Order Code: CR-156-G133

Exportable.

This tusk is from the 2014 season. 

Length: 176 cm, 69.3", 5.8 feet
Width at middle:  3.5 cm, 1.4"
Width at base: 5 cm, 2"
Circumference at base: 15.5 cm, 6.1"
Weight: 2.53 kilograms or 5.58 pounds

Cable Tag: 133
Harvested From: Arctic Bay

Price: US$5,000.00

Close-up views: close-up 1, close-up 2, close-up 3, close-up 4, close-up 5, close-up 6

#1 Narwhal Tusk

Order Code: CR-156-G172

***Sale Pending to thailand***

Exportable.

This tusk is from the 2014 season. 

Length: 110 cm, 43.3", 3.6 feet
Width at middle: 3 cm, 1.2"
Width at base: 3 cm, 1.2"
Circumference at base: 10.5 cm, 4.1"
Weight: 0.88 kilograms or 1.94 pounds

Cable Tag: 172
Harvested From: Arctic Bay

Price: US$2,250.00

Close-up views: close-up 1, close-up 2, close-up 3

#1 Narwhal Tusk

Order Code: CR-156-G201

***Sale Pending to China***

Exportable.

This tusk is from the 2013 season. 

Length: 96 cm, 37.75", 3.1 feet
Width at middle: 2.5 cm, 1"
Width at base: 3 cm, 1.25"
Weight: 0.59 kilograms or 1.30 pounds

Cable Tag: 201
Purchased From: Arctic Bay

Close-up views: close-up 1, close-up 2, close-up 3

#1 Narwhal Tusk

Order Code: CR-156-G218

***Sale Pending to China***

Exportable.

This tusk is from the 2013 season. 

Length: 136 cm, 53.5", 4.5 feet
Width at middle: 2.75 cm, 1.25"
Width at base: 3.5 cm, 1.5"
Weight: 1.26 kilograms or 2.76 pounds

Cable Tag: 218
Purchased From: Arctic Bay

Close-up views: close-up 1, close-up 2, close-up 3, close-up 4

#1 Narwhal Tusk

Order Code: CR-156-G229

***Sale Pending to China***

Exportable.

This tusk is from the 2013 season. 

Length: 140 cm, 55", 4.6 feet
Width at middle: 3 cm, 1.5"
Width at base: 4.5 cm, 1.75"
Weight: 1.60 kilograms or 3.52 pounds

Cable Tag: 229
Purchased From: Arctic Bay

Close-up views: close-up 1, close-up 2, close-up 3, close-up 4

#1 Narwhal Tusk

Order Code: CR-156-G285

***Sale Pending to China***

Exportable.

This tusk is from the 2013 season. The tip is very slightly naturally chipped. It is not completely straight, there is a slight curve towards the tip.  There are some cut marks near the base of the tusk.

Length: 227.5 cm, 89.6”, 7.5 feet
Width at middle: 4 cm, 1.5”
Width at base: 4.5 cm, 1.8”
Weight: 4.61 kilograms, 10.18 pounds

Cable Tag: 285
Purchased From: Arctic Bay

Close-up views: close-up 1, close-up 2, close-up 3, close-up 4, close-up 5

#1 Narwhal Tusk

Order Code: CR-156-G928

In stock and available for purchase.

Exportable.

This tusk is from the 2013 season. 

Length: ~241.5 cm or 95" or 7.9 feet
Width at middle:  cm or "
Width at base: cm or "
Weight:  kilograms or pounds

Cable Tag: 928
Purchased From: Repulse Bay

Price: US$11,500.00

Pictures coming soon.

#1 Narwhal Tusk

Order Code: CR-156-G930

***Sale Pending to China***

Exportable.

This tusk is from the 2013 season. This is a nice straight tusk with nice ridges and a nice natural tip. It has some of the algae covering it giving it a natural look.

Length: 204.5 cm, 80.5”, 6.7 feet
Width at middle: 4 cm, 1.6”
Width at base: 4.5 cm, 1.8”
Weight: 3.80 kilograms, 8.38 pounds

Cable Tag: 930
Purchased From: Repulse Bay

Close-up views: close-up 1, close-up 2, close-up 3, close-up 4, close-up 5, close-up 6, close-up 7

 

Gallery of #2 Narwhal Tusks In Stock and Ready for Sale

Exportable with the proper permits to most countries other than Australia, Mexico, the Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S.

You get the exact tusk shown when ordering by number.

If they are not marked sold or sale pending, the are most likely available.

The tusks are listed below in order by harvest tag number, not size or price. Detailed ordering information is provided below these gallery pictures.  Just scroll down. Tusks marked SALE PENDING are essentially sold and are just awaiting permits for export.

#2 Narwhal Tusk

Order Code: CR-156-G1479

Exportable.

This tusk is from the 1983 season. This is the thickest and heaviest tusk we have ever seen.  It must have come from an exceptionally old whale.  We classify this tusk as a #2 tusk because there are some cut marks on the tusk, located about 2 feet from the tip of the tusk.

After speaking to other suppliers, we think the "cut marks" are actually natural wear and tear on the tusk of an old whale.

Length: 242.5 cm, 95.5", 7.96 feet
Width at middle: 5 cm, 2"
Width at base: 6 cm, 2.25"
Weight: 9.22 kilograms or 20.32 pounds

Marine Mammal Tag: 1479
Harvested From: Igloolik

Price: US$17,500.00

Close-up views: close-up 1, close-up 2, close-up 3, close-up 4, close-up 5, close-up 6, close-up 7, close-up 8

 

Gallery of #3 Craft Narwhal Tusks In Stock and Ready for Sale

Exportable with the proper permits to most countries other than Australia, Mexico, the Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S.

You get the exact tusk shown when ordering by number.

If they are not marked sold or sale pending, the are most likely available.

The tusks are listed below in order by harvest tag number, not size or price. Detailed ordering information is provided below these gallery pictures.  Just scroll down. Tusks marked SALE PENDING are essentially sold and are just awaiting permits for export from Canada or an import permit from the buyer's country.

#3 Craft Narwhal Tusk

Order Code: CR-156-G124

***Sale Pending to China***

Exportable.

This tusk is from the 2014 season. It has a broken tip.

Length: 157 cm, 62", 5.1 feet
Width at middle: 4 cm, 1.6"
Width at base: 4 cm, 1.6"
Circumference at base: 14 cm, 5.5"
Weight: 2.91 kilograms or 6.42 pounds

Cable Tag: 124
Harvested From: Arctic Bay

Price: US$2,000.00

Close-up views: close-up 1, close-up 2, close-up 3, close-up 4, close-up 5, close-up 6

;

#3 Craft Narwhal Tusk

Order Code: CR-156-G174

***Sale Pending to China***

Exportable.

This tusk is from the 2014 season. It has a broken tip.

Length: 166 cm, 65.4", 5.4 feet
Width at middle: 5 cm, 2"
Width at base: 4.5 cm, 1.8"
Circumference at base: 16.5 cm, 6.5"
Weight: 5.40 kilograms or 11.90 pounds

Cable Tag: 174
Harvested From: Arctic Bay

Price: US$2,900.00

Close-up views: close-up 1, close-up 2, close-up 3, close-up 4, close-up 5, close-up 6

 

Gallery of Narwhal Tusk Pieces In Stock and Ready for Sale

Exportable with the proper permits to most countries other than Australia, Mexico, the Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S. 

You get the exact tusk shown when ordering by number.

If they are not marked sold or sale pending, the are most likely available.

The tusks are listed below in order by harvest tag number, not size or price. Detailed ordering information is provided below these gallery pictures.  Just scroll down. Tusks marked SALE PENDING are essentially sold and are just awaiting permits for export.

Narwhal Tusk Pieces

Order Code:

Length:
Width at middle:
Width at ends:
Weight: 

Length:
Width at middle: 
Width at ends:
Weight: 

Harvested From:
Marine Mammal Tag:

Sold out

 

Gallery of Rare Narwhal Tusks In Stock and Ready for Sale

Exportable with the proper permits to most countries other than Australia, Mexico, the Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S. 

You get the exact tusk shown when ordering by number.

If they are not marked sold or sale pending, the are most likely available.

The tusks are listed below in order by harvest tag number, not size or price. Detailed ordering information is provided below these gallery pictures.  Just scroll down. Tusks marked SALE PENDING are essentially sold and are just awaiting permits for export.

Double Baby Narwhal Embedded Teeth

Order Code: CR-156-G5001

In stock and available for purchase.

Exportable.

This is an extremely rare pair of baby narwhal embedded teeth. They are from the 2008 season. These are sold as a set only.

According to CITES Canada and Fisheries & Oceans, tusks that have not penetrated the skin are considered to be embedded teeth and not tusks.

Length: 19.7 cm or 7.75" (same for both tusks)
Width at middle: 1.3 cm or 0.5" (same for both tusks)
Width at base: 1.9 cm or 0.75" and 1.3 cm or 0.5"
Weight: 0.1 kilograms or 0.2 pounds (for both tusks)

Sex: Female
Harvested From: Pond Inlet
Marine Mammal Tag: 5001

Price: US$2,800.00

Unique Narwhal Tusk

Order Code: CR-156-G6182

In stock and available for purchase.

Exportable.

After a lifetime of handling narwhal tusks a dealer said that he had "never seen such a weird tusk." Most tusks are more or less straight. Some tusks have a spiral to them. This tusk is unique in the way it is twisted. The tusk is currently in the owner's personal collection, but is available for sale.

Length: 148 cm or 58.3" or 4.9 feet
Width at middle: 3.8 cm or 1.5"
Width at base: 5.1 cm or 2"
Weight: 2.7 kilograms or 5.98 pounds

Sex: Male
Harvested From: Arctic Bay
Marine Mammal Tag: 6182

Price: US$2,800.00

 

Selection Process

We individually inspect and select all the tusks we offer for sale in the gallery above. Here is our selection process for a shipment of 56 narwhal tusks that came down from the Arctic sea lift to Toronto in November 2010.

We opened the crate for the first time and got first pick of the entire shipment.

We took out all the tusks, lined them up, and arranged them by size.

We inspected the tusks from tip to base to ensure quality selection.

This is the largest tusk of the entire shipment. See 156-G6293 above.

Inspection in Toronto

The tusks in our gallery above are stored at our office in Toronto.  You are welcome to come and inspect individual tusks if desired.  Please make an appointment ahead of time so you are not disappointed.  For customers residing outside of Ontario, we cannot release the tusks until we have proper paperwork in place.  All offers of sale are make with the condition that proper permits are in place prior to the final sale.

Ordering and Payment Terms for International Orders

Here is the process we follow for all international orders:

1. Confirm the sale:

  • You check with the CITES Management Authority in your country to ensure that you can legally import the tusk.  You can usually find them by entering the phrase CITES MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY into google or let us know and we will send you the contact information for your country from the CITES website (www.cites.org). See the section for National Contacts and Information on the left of the CITES home page. Select your country from the list that comes up.

    We agree on the tusk you want by order number and price.  We update this website nearly every business day.  If the tusk is not marked sold or sale pending, it is most likely available for sale.

2.  Pay in full to reserve the tusk:

  • We prepare a pro-forma invoice for you to review.  We will send this to you by e-mail or fax it as desired.

  • In the past, we have accepted a 10% non-refundable deposit (minimum deposit is US$500.00 per tusk) to reserve the tusk.  Since August 2014, we have changed our policy to require payment in full to reserve the tusk.  We accept payment by wire transfer. We will only refund your money if we cannot get the Canadian CITES export permit or if you have applied for and cannot get the CITES import permit in your country.

3. CITES and other documents:

  • We discourage export orders that are valued less than US$1,000.00 due to the high cost of freight and handling.  Export orders less than US$1,000.00 will be subject to a non-refundable fee of US$250.00 to process the CITES paperwork.

  • For international exports, we will disinfect and get a veterinary health certificate from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency prior to shipping.  Turkey and South Africa are the only countries that we currently know of that require a veterinary certificate.  However, due to our experience with changing international laws, we will now get veterinary certificates for all exports.  There is a non-refundable fee of US$250.00 to get the veterinary certificate. See more information on veterinary certificates in Cleaning Tusks below.
  • We fill out the Canadian CITES application and obtain the CITES export permit from Fisheries & Oceans in Canada.  The CITES export permit is generally valid for export from Canada for six months from the time of issue.  All of the narwhal tusks we have offered for sale that we state are exportable are eligible for a CITES export permit.  If the shipment is not shipped prior to the expiration of the export permit, we must return the permit to Fisheries & Oceans to be cancelled and apply for a replacement CITES export permit.  The replacement CITES export permit will have a new permit number which means you may or may not have to get an amended CITES import permit.

  • We will e-mail a copy of the CITES export permit to you so you can apply for a CITES import permit if required by your country. Most countries require an import permit. Some, however, such as New Zealand and Hong Kong do not require import permits for narwhal tusks.

  • If a corresponding import permit is required by your country (typically the case in the European Union), you obtain an import permit from the "CITES Management Authority" in your country.

  • You send a copy of the CITES import permit to us by e-mail or fax.  

4.  Shipping:

  • Once we have all the CITES permits and veterinary certificate, we will pack up the tusk(s) and have our freight forwarder in Toronto ship it to you by air freight collect.  The freight forwarder or their agent in your country will call you with the freight details and costs.  It normally takes our forwarder two business days to pick up the tusk(s) from our office, submit the paperwork, and deliver the shipment to the airline that will forward this to you.  Most flights to Europe arrive the next day, but you may experience delays in clearing the tusk while you arrange a broker or for the CITES authorities to inspect the tusk.

  • You have a customs broker clear the shipment through customs and take delivery.  Please allow up to one week on your end for customs clearance. 

  • You take the tusk home and enjoy for many years to come.

Sales within Ontario

No additional paperwork or documentation is required for the sale or shipping of tusks delivered within Ontario.  HST is applicable for all sales within Ontario.  All sales within Ontario will have the following statement on the invoice:  

Not for export from Ontario without proper transportation permit from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and/or CITES.

A copy of the original marine mammal transportation permit issued to bring the tusk into Ontario is not required to be provided by Polar Art & Exotics, Inc. to the customer buying the tusk in Ontario.  We will put the marine mammal transportation permit number issued to bring the tusk into Ontario on the invoice for reference should any questions arise from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Sales within Canada

An inter-provincial marine mammal transportation permit is required to ship tusks from Ontario to other provinces or territories (even if picked up at our office in Toronto).  HST/GST will be charged on all shipments within Canada.  A 10% non-refundable deposit (with a minimum of US$500.00 per tusk) is required prior to us obtaining transportation permits.  Payment in full is required prior to shipping.  The transportation permit is generally valid for 30 days from the time of issue.  Failure to pay within 15 days of our informing you that we have received the transportation permit will result in our cancellation of your order and the loss of your deposit and your ability to order from us again.  There is no cost for this permit if your order is valued at C$1,000+.  If your order is valued less than C$1,000, we will charge a non-refundable fee of C$250.00 for the MMTL.

A copy of the original marine mammal transportation permit issued to bring the tusk into Ontario is not required to be provided by Polar Art & Exotics, Inc. to the customer buying the tusk in Canada.  We will put the marine mammal transportation permit number issued to bring the tusk into Ontario on the invoice for reference should any questions arise from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

In theory, an officer from Fisheries and Oceans can issue a verbal or oral authorization to transport a tusk from one province to another (per conversation with Jacob Barkley, 100112).  In practice it is best to apply for and receive a transportation permit from Fisheries and Oceans to have a paper trail for both the buyer and seller. We obtain this permit from Fisheries & Oceans in Burlington, Ontario. An officer must come and inspect the tusk before issuing the permit. Please allow one to two business weeks for us to schedule an appointment with a fisheries officer to get this permit.

Purchases of Tusks within Canada

Given the extensive regulations governing the purchase, sale, ownership, and transportation of tusks, we are very careful about purchasing tusks from individuals.  The tusks must have a harvest tag and transportation permit and a clear record of ownership. If you meet these requirements, please feel free to forward us pictures of your tusk, harvest tag, and transportation permit along with the length, condtion, your location (e.g., Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton) and a realistic price you are hoping to get. We will do our best to respond promptly. We do not buy tusks without a harvest tag and paperwork.

Please see the following link for more information on the laws regarding narwhal tusks in Canada:

http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/laws/regu/sor-93-56/latest/sor-93-56.html

Please note that

14. No person shall buy, sell, trade, barter or possess a narwhal tusk unless the licence under the authority of which the narwhal was taken is attached to the tusk.  

The license is the Marine Mammal Harvest Tag. If you have a tusk without a tag (even if your grandfather gave it to you), we are not interested in buying this and technically it is illegal for you to possess the tusk.  We have been advised by an officer from Fisheries & Oceans that if you find in your attic an AK-47 and a narwhal tusk without a tag, you can most likely take the AK-47 to the police and turn this in without problem, but if you report the narwhal tusk to Fisheries & Oceans they will charge you with breaking the law and seize the tusk.   

Please note that it is also illegal to "find" a tusk on the beach in the Arctic from a narwhal that died a natural death and was not hunted.  Do not take these tusks (or other marine mammal products) into the Ministry for Natural Resources asking if you can keep this as they will charge you with possessing a tusk without a tag.  

The requirement of the harvest tag to be with the tusk is a legal requirement of Fisheries & Oceans Canada through the Fisheries Act and the Marine Mammal Regulations and is unrelated to CITES.

Export Controls from Canada

Narwhal are marine mammals and are subject to CITES import/export controls under Appendix II.  The Ministry of Fisheries & Oceans in Prince Edward Island issues all export permits for narwhal tusks for sales in Toronto, Ontario.  It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to obtain a CITES export permit, but could take up to 6 to 8 weeks depending upon their work load.

As of December 20, 2011, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada has partially lifted its international trade restrictions on narwhal tusks based on new scientific surveys of the narwhal population.

The communities now able to trade internationally include Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Qikiqtarjuaq, Pangnirtung, and Iqaluit.

Trade is still restricted in the Kivalliq region communities and Kimmirut, Sanikiluaq, and Grise Fiord.

Import Controls in Your Country

The following summary is included as a quick guide to import controls to the best of our knowledge.   You must check with your CITES authorities to determine the laws in force at the time of obtaining an import permit.

As far as we know, we CAN ship narwhal tusks to the following countries:

Shipments to most Asian, Latin American, and African countries are generally permitted with proper CITES documentation.

Shipments to Bermuda are permitted with just a CITES export permit from Canada.  No corresponding import permit is required prior to import.  The authorities were prompt in answering questions about importing the tusks.  This information was last reviewed in January 2013.

Shipments to China are permitted with a corresponding CITES import permit issued prior to importation.  The authorities were prompt in answering questions about importing the tusks.  We can recommend an agent from Beijing, China that some of our customers have used in the past to import narwhal tusks.  This information was last reviewed in October 2014.

Commercial shipments to the European Union are becoming increasingly restrictive.  Personal shipments are generally permitted.  The address and phone number must be for the residence of the buyer. We cannot ship to any commercial address. As of March 2009 the European Union has started issuing permits on a case-by-case basis.  If all the paperwork is in order prior to shipping, you should not have any problem obtaining an import permit.  To save time and effort, please check with your CITES officials before ordering from us.  It is illegal for someone in the European Union to own a narwhal tusk harvested within the territory of the European Union.  Please see Article 2 under Council Directive 92/43/EEC.  This information was last reviewed in February 2014.

Shipments to France are generally permitted with proper CITES documentation. Please note that a condition on a tusk sold to France in July 2009 stated "specimen interdit a la vente."  The tusk may be imported into France for personal use, but not for resale.  This information was last reviewed in June 2012.

Shipments to Germany are permitted for personal or scientific use only.  A CITES import permit from the German CITES management authorities is required prior to importing the tusk.  The contact information for German CITES is listed on the CITES website under National Contacts.  The authorities were very responsive when asked for details and provided a link to their website for the form to complete.  The CITES import permit will state that the tusk may not be marketed (i.e., sold). This information was last reviewed in July 2010. In September 2011, we received a permit to ship two baby tusks for educational use to Germany. In December 2011 we learned that the German authorities will only issue permits to individuals at their personal home address. You cannot ship a tusk to an office or commercial entity. This information was last reviewed on August 2013.

Shipments to Hong Kong are permitted with just a CITES export permit from Canada.  No corresponding import permit is required prior to import.  The authorities were prompt in answering questions about importing the tusks.  This information was last reviewed in July 2012.

Shipments to Iceland are generally permitted with proper CITES documentation.  This information was last reviewed in August 2008. 

Shipments to Italy are generally permitted with a corresponding CITES import permit issued prior to importation.  This information was last reviewed November 2012.

Shipments to Japan are permitted with proper CITES documentation..  Japan does not require a CITES import permit.  This information was last reviewed August 2014.

Shipments to New Zealand are permitted and only require the original Canadian export permit for CITES Appendix II species--to which narwhal belong.  No corresponding import permit is required.  We can supply contact information for CITES officers in New Zealand for customers to verify this information.  This information was last reviewed in October 2012.

Shipments to Norway are generally permitted with proper CITES documentation.  This information was last reviewed in August 2008. 

Shipments to South Africa for personal and commercial use are permitted with proper CITES documentation. This information was last reviewed in October 2013.

Shipments to Sweden for personal use are generally permitted with proper CITES documentation. This information was last reviewed in June 2013.

Shipments to Switzerland are generally permitted with proper CITES documentation.  This information was last reviewed in August 2008.  Switzerland has generally restricted imports of tusks for personal use only--not for resale.

Shipments to Turkey are permitted by the Turkish authorities. We are not sure whether imports of commercial tusks are permitted. The tusks we have exported have been for personal use.  On February 2012, a narwhal tusk was held by customs due to a recent law change because it did not have a veterinary health certificate.  All narwhal tusks now require a Canadian veterinary health certificate.  Presently, Turkish authorities have been non-responsive to our request for more information about the required wording on the health certificate.  We can only get a health certificate from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency specifying that the narwhal tusks are cleaned and are free of meat and blood.  Therefore, you may import narwhal tusks AT YOUR OWN RISK with this certificate.  We recommend that you contact Turkish authorities to find out the exact wording required on the health certificate. This information was last reviewed in April 2012.

Shipments to Ukraine are permitted without an import permit. The Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine wrote that "As narwhal (Monodon monoceros) is in CITES Appendix II it is not necessary for a customer in Ukraine to apply for a CITES import permit."  This information was last reviewed in February 2012.

We CANNOT ship narwhal tusks to the following countries:

As of January 25, 2007, Australia has imposed stricter trade regulations on all Cetacea (all whales, porpoises and dolphins) than are in effect with CITES.  All species of the order Cetacea included in Appendix II of CITES are treated as if they are in Appendix I of CITES.  Consequently, we cannot export to Australia and you cannot import narwhal tusks unless they are pre-treaty tusks.  Appendix I items may only be shipped for scientific study, zoos, etc.

No exports of marine mammal products are allowed to Mexico as stated in Article 55: "Artículo 55 bis.- Queda prohibida la importación, exportación y reexportación de ejemplares de cualquier especie de mamífero marino y primate, así como de sus partes y derivados, con excepción de aquéllos destinados a la investigación científica, y las muestras de líquidos, tejidos o células reproductivas de aquellos ejemplares que se encuentren en cautiverio, previa autorización de la Secretaría.” This information was last reviewed in April 2012.

The Netherlands is not issuing CITES import permits for narwhal tusks pending a scientific review.  This information was last reviewed in February 2014.

No shipments to the United Kingdom are permitted because of restrictions imposed by those countries.

No shipments to the United States are permitted because of restrictions imposed by the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.  We will not sell tusks in Ontario to U.S. residents if we believe they intend to smuggle them back into the U.S.  Canada Customs and the U.S. Customs Service treat any violation seriously.  Expect to have your car confiscated and spend 10 years in jail.  Don't even think about trying to smuggle a tusk back to the U.S. because you think it would look cool in your house.  Don't even ask us about how we can help you get a tusk into the U.S. as we are not keen on being treated as accessories to a crime. No marine mammal items may transit the United States.  For example, a tusk going from Canada to New Zealand must be shipped through Vancouver, not Los Angeles.  The U.S. government has been known to seize tusks that are in transit through the U.S.

PLEASE NOTE: The Canadian CITES authorities make the following statement on letters to us accompanying the permit:  "Although your shipment meets Canadian CITES export requirements, please be advised that some countries have enacted additional legislation that is more stringent than that of CITES.  It is your responsibility to ensure that the importing and export requirements of the (country) have been met.  Failure to do so may result in seizure of your shipment."

If you fail to ensure that you can legally import a tusk, we will not be responsible for the seizure of any shipment.  Please make appropriate inquires with your authorities prior to ordering from us.  This is not an impulse purchase.

For more information on import regulations in your country, please check with your CITES Management Authority.  Just search in google with this phrase or an appropriate translation to find the people you need to talk with.

Shipping

The tusks are shipped in heavy PVC tubing to avoid breakage.  We place cardboard or some other material on the tube to keep it from rolling and falling off a truck or table. We rub the tusk down with VaselineTM or mineral oil and then pack the tube with styrofoam peanuts or bubble wrap as appropriate.  When the tusk arrives, you can use paper towels or rags to wipe the tusk clean.  Make sure to keep the original CITES permit (tag) in case you ever want to sell the tusk or ship it internationally--this is your proof that the tusk was legally acquired.  In Canada, this tag must remain attached to the tusk at all times. 

Shipping is by Freight Collect using our Freight Forwarder

All shipments are sent freight collect, i.e., you pay the shipping costs, using our freight forwarder.  The permits must be stamped by Canada Customs prior to leaving the country in order to be valid.  Our forwarder insures that this is done properly both leaving Canada and entering the destination country.  The freight forwarder we use is a specialist in the fur industry and is probably the most reliable shipper in Canada.  Individuals cannot take the tusks with them as baggage on an airplane.

Why we do not use UPS, FedEx, DHL, or EMS for International Shipments

Restricted Nature of the Merchandise

Marine Mammal products and other CITES articles are highly regulated items that require special handling that many courier companies are not set up to undertake.  We use a freight forwarder that specializes in fur and animal products and knows how to deal with the regulations. 

Many courier companies, such as UPS, FedEx, DHL, and postal systems will not accept CITES items because of the complexity and fines they may incur for not following strict rules.  Even if we wanted to ship with them, they simply will not touch the goods. 

Most airlines will not take these shipments as they consider them trophies.

Routing Issues

Most courier companies use distribution centers that may result in the shipment entering a jurisdiction that bans the sales of these items and can result in the merchandise being seized.  For example, if we were to ship a narwhal tusk from Toronto to Munich, a courier company might route this through Memphis or London where the shipment can be seized.  We typically ship on a direct flight to the destination country or on a connecting flight that does not transit through the U.S., U.K, Mexico, or Australia. 

We often must ship to designated ports in the recipient country because of customs regulations in that country.  For example, we recently requested a direct shipment to Dusseldorf in Germany, but had to ship to Frankfort and then have the shipment cleared and then forwarded to Dusseldorf.

Costs

The costs for handling specialized freight are high.  It typically costs at least US$500 for a shipment to Europe and more to other destinations, such as Hong Kong.  Most of the charges are minimums.  You will pay the same for a one foot tusk as for a 9-foot one.  You may think it unreasonable and we understand this.  There is no way around this.  We recommend either not buying a tusk or buying enough to make the high transport and customs clearance costs bearable.

The freight company in your country will also charge a handling fee for the work they do.  This is usually US$50 to US$100.  Some customers clear the shipments through customs themselves to save the cost of using a broker, but most people pay to have a broker clear the shipment.  This is another US$50 to US$100 usually.  If you have arranged domestic delivery, this adds more costs.  You may also have to pay VAT if your country charges it.

Shipping costs vary with the destination.  Some examples follow:

A 53.5" tusk shipped in a 60" PVC tube that was 4" wide from Toronto to Switzerland in April 2008 cost C$295.10 (about US$300.00).  This charge included pick up from our office, CITES export processing with Canada Customs, air freight on a direct flight on Air Canada to Zurich, and insurance.  All of the charges were minimum fees, so larger tusks should not be much different.  Our customer did his own customs clearance.  This took about one hour and saved some money.  The veterinarian inspection cost approximately C$89.00 and took about 10 minutes to inspect the CITES paperwork.  VAT was about C$120.00 (7.5% of the invoice amount).

An 83" tusk shipped in a 92" PVC tube that was 4.75" wide from Toronto to Paris, France in August 2009 cost C$302.00 (about US$272.00 at current exchange rates).  This charge included pick up from our office, CITES export processing with Canada Customs, air freight on a direct flight on Air Canada to Paris, and insurance.  All of the charges were minimum fees. 

A 236 cm tusk shipped in a 9 foot long PVC tube from Toronto to France in July 2012 cost C$392.32 freight and handling.  This charge included pick up from our office, CITES export processing with Canada Customs, air freight on a direct flight on to France, and insurance.  There was a 40 Euro fee charged by the French freight company.  The customer cleared the tusk himself to save on the cost of using a broker.  He also paid 1,504 Euro in custom taxes.

A 62" tusk shipping in a 72" PVC tube that was 4" wide from Toronto to Germany in July 2010 cost C$292.00 (about US$280.00 at exchange rates current at the time). This charge included pick up from our office, CITES export processing with Canada Customs, air freight on a direct flight on Air Canada from Toronto to Frankfurt, and insurance. 

Two small tusks measuring 70.5 cm and 73.5 cm were shipped in a single PVC tube by freight collect from Toronto to Germany in April 2012 cost C$500.00 for shipping, customs, and taxes. This charge included pickup from our office, CITES export processing with Canada Customs, air freight on a direct flight from Toronto to Stamberg, and insurance. The customer later wrote back that he was able to get a price reduction from his local freight company.

A 70 cm tusk was shipped in a PVC tube by freight collect from Toronto to New Zealand in December 2012 cost a total of $588.74 NZD for air freight, customs, and brokerage.  This charge included pickup from our office, CITES validation in Canada and New Zealand, air freight on a direct flight from Toronto to New Zealand, and insurance.  This is what it will cost shipping one narwhal tusk regardless of the size because the shipping costs are minimum fees.  Since the tusk must be shipped direct to New Zealand (it cannot transit through the U.S., U.K., or Australia or it will be seized) the options were limited.

A 71 cm tusk was shipped in a PVC tube by freight collect from Toronto to Ukraine in February 2012 cost C$455.00 for shipping, $260.00 for customs and $195.00 for taxes. This charge included pick up from our office, CITES export processing with Canada Customs, air freight on a direct flight from Toronto to Kyiv, and insurance. The customer later wrote back to say that he got a better price of $351.00.

A recent shipping estimate we received for a 8.5 feet long tube to be shipped to Hong Kong is C$652.15.  The breakdown was C$415.40 to ship from our door to Hong Kong airport including insurance, C$215.80 total charges in Hong Kong including home delivery, and C$20.95 for the freight forwarder's agent to do the import declaration. (February 2014)

A shipping estimate for a 5 by 1 by 1 box to be shipped from Toronto to Bangkok, Thailand is C$380.80.  This includes pickup from our office, CITES export permit processing with Canada Customs, and air freight to Bangkok Airport. (October 2014)

We have extensive experience packing the tusks to ensure safe shipment.  If possible, carefully open the parcel with the delivery company representative present.  If there is any damage in shipment due to mishandling, this must be report to the shipping company immediately.  Save all the packing materials.  If you are unable to open the parcel immediately, inspect the PVC shipping tube carefully for any obvious signs of damage and report this on the delivery document.  Take pictures of the shipping tube if it has been damaged in transit.

Return Policy

We have never had a customer return a narwhal tusk that arrived intact.  We will accurately describe the tusk and provide pictures to help you make a decision about which one to buy.  We strongly encourage you to get as much information as possible to ensure that you will be satisfied with the tusk prior to purchase as it is not a simple matter to send it back.  If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to ask us.

We stand behind our merchandise.  If you are unhappy with the tusk for any reason upon arrival, let us know right away--within five days after receipt.  We do not accept returns for any reason after our five-day inspection period.

To return a tusk, the entire process of obtaining permits must be reversed and done properly by you or your broker at your expense.  We will obtain a Canadian import permit once you have an export permit from your country's CITES authorities.  You pay shipping by air (the tusk must be insured) and customs clearance costs both ways along with a US$500.00 processing fee.  When the tusk arrives back in our office in the same condition we shipped it out in we will issue a refund less the shipping cost, customs clearance cost, and processing fee.  We do not accept any responsibility for improper permits obtained on your part, improper export procedures being followed by you, or shipping errors on your part.  We also need the original harvest tag back with the tusk and it must be attached to the tusk at all times.  

Never just ship a tusk without proper permits. Don't even think about it.

This is not a trivial purchase and returns are not an easy matter.  For high-value tusks, you are welcome to come and inspect the tusk in Toronto prior to shipment if you wish. You cannot take the tusk with you on the plane.

It is very expensive, time consuming, and risky returning tusks.  If you think there is any chance you will not be 100% satisfied with what you buy, please do not order a tusk.  The fees both ways and our return processing fee to cover the cost of our time may well exceed the cost of the tusk.

Care of the Tusks

Rub the tusk with VaselineTM or mineral oil every now and then to prevent it from drying out.  The tusks will crack if they are allowed to dry out.  Most tusks have small hairline cracks where the tusks twist naturally.

Cleaning Tusks

When the tusks first come out of the water, they are covered in algae and other dark slime as shown on the left in the picture above.  One way to clean the tusks is to use a piece of eaves trough, close up the sides, and fill it with water and detergent (Sunlight will work) or bleach and water.  You can let the tusk soak overnight and then use a bristle brush to clean the scum off.  The tusk will be a bit yellowed.  You can use regular hydrogen peroxide to brighten it.  The tusks will come out like the ones on the right depending upon how well you clean them. 

We only sell cleaned tusks for export. The tusks are cleaned and are free of blood and meat. They are scrubbed to remove algae and grime. They are often treated in a long tub with hydrogen peroxide or bleach to disinfect and whiten.

For international exports, we will thoroughly clean and disinfect the tusks and get a veterinary certificate prior to shipping.  There is a non-refundable fee of US$250.00 per shipment to get a veterinary certificate.  We view the veterinary certificate as a mandatory option.  We do not build the cost of the veterinary certificate into the price of our tusks because many customers buy multiple tusks and the cost of the veterinary certificate is a cost per shipment, not per tusk.  We highly recommend that you contact the appropriate authorities in your country to find out if there are any import conditions for narwhal tusks.  If the import conditions are not known, we will get a standard veterinary certificate with the statements of treatment (how we cleaned and disinfected the tusks). 

Using Tusks for Arts and Crafts and Other Legal Questions

There is some question as to the laws regarding use of tusks for making arts and crafts.  The law states that each tusk must have a harvest tag attached at all times.  During a meeting with officials at Fisheries & Oceans in Burlington, Ontario on March 9, 2010, we were informed that policy guidelines are being developed to assist the arts and crafts community in complying with the law.  If a tusk purchased from us or others is going to be cut into multiple pieces for use in making earrings, pendants, knife handles, carvings, etc., the new owner of the tusk should contact Fisheries & Oceans to obtain additional harvest tags before cutting the tusk.  These tags can then be assigned to each article being made.  Technically, the law states that the tag must be attached to the tusk at all times.  For jewelry, knife handles, cut pieces, and carvings, our understanding is that as long as the owner can produce the tag for the article promptly, this will suffice as proof of a product made from a legally acquired tusk.  In other words, you can wear a pair of narwhal earrings to dinner, but had better be able to prove that they were made from legally acquired material if ask by an officer from Fisheries & Oceans.  Always keep the harvest tag.

Please note that all narwhal products leaving the Province of Ontario must have marine mammal transportation permits--this is true for jewelry, carvings, knife handles, cut pieces, etc., as well as for full tusks.  All products being shipped out of Canada must have a CITES permit--regardless of how much or how little you paid for the item.

We recommend that customers maintain adequate paperwork (copies of tags, pictures of tusks, etc.) to prove where pieces came from and went.

Please note that we accept no responsibility whatsoever for the accuracy of this section and are simply trying to relay information as we learn more as a service to both our customers and to the Ministry of Fisheries & Oceans.  We are not the final authorities on this matter and are awaiting formal, written guidance from Fisheries & Oceans that we can pass on to our customers.  Each customer or artist is responsible for researching the laws on his or her own to ensure a thorough understanding of how the laws affect his or her situation.

Appraisals

We frequently get inquiries from customers looking for appraisals for insurance purposes. The charge is C$125.00 + HST for a written appraisal for one tusk.  The charge is C$175.00 + HST for a written appraisal for two tusks. We will need five or six pictures of the tusk, the length of the tusk, condition, and any special notes. We need your address and phone number to prepare a PayPal invoice for you to pay against prior to issuing the appraisal letter.

Press Inquiries

Paul Crosby is the only person at Polar Art & Exotics, Inc. authorized to speak with members of the press.

Recent quotes concerning changes in the method for tagging tusks can be found in the Toronto Star on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 on page A6.

Genus and Species

Genus and species:  Monodon monoceros.  Wild.  CITES Appendix II.

Narwhal are protected along with all other marine mammals.  They live in the cold arctic waters and are not exposed to significant hunting.  Estimates of the number of narwhal in polar waters range from a low of 20,000 to a high of 35,000 or more.  Nearly all of the narwhal tusks come from animals that were killed by local hunters for food, not for the tusk alone.  The government of Canada restricts the number of narwhal that may be taken each year to ensure that narwhal do not become threatened.  As of January 2010, we believe the annual harvest is only 200 to 300 narwhal across the Canadian arctic.  This is about 1% of the estimated population and is believed to be sustainable.

There are an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 tusks that have accumulated on the ocean floor over the years near communities where the narwhal hunt takes place.

Due to recent problems with poaching and overhunting in eastern Greenland (where there is a very small population of narwhals), we do not offer narwhal tusks from Greenland.

What is CITES?

CITES is the abbreviation for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.  Nearly all countries belong to CITES (holdouts include places such as North Korea).  The goal of CITES is to regulate the trade in species that are under threat somewhere in the world.  Nearly 30,000 animals and plants are identified.  The commercial trade in some animals or products made from those animals is completely prohibited (e.g., pandas and tigers).  These are listed as CITES Appendix I. Others are permitted, but the trade is monitored (most items covered under CITES).  These are listed as CITES Appendix II.  A few animals or plants are listed by one or more countries that want to monitor trade in a specific animal or product (e.g., abalone in South Africa until June 2010).  These are listed as CITES Appendix III.  

All marine mammals are regulated by CITES--even if they are not considered endangered.  See the official CITES website at www.cites.org for more information.

Notes on the Tusks

The tusks are hollow nearly all the way to the tip.  Only the last inch or two is solid.  The hole in the middle of the tusk is about 1/2" in diameter on 5' tusks.  The width of the hole expands nearer the base.  The longer tusks from older animals have a much thicker base than the younger ones.

When the tusks first come out of the water, often the tips are clean from use and the rest of the tip is nearly black from algae and gunk.  Many tusks are broken on the tips simply as a result of use--not breakage in shipping.  These are ideal for craft purposes or for individuals who do not mind specimens like this.

When tusks are bleached using a 2% solution of Chlorox(TM) and water (2 parts water, 1 part 6% Chlorox household bleach) the tusk becomes a bright white (see a picture of a bleached tusk compared to a cleaned tusk). The color softens when mineral oil is applied.

To see whether a tip has been worked (sanded by the Inuit or others), you can use a magnifying glass to look for marks and/or swirls from sandpaper.

Generally, only males have long tusks. Sometimes females will grow a long tusk, but this is not the norm.

The Inuit avoid hunting pregnant females.

The most active hunting takes place in August and September when the ice opens up.

The tusks appear to be for display to attract female narwhal--similar to antlers or deer or elk and tail feathers on peacocks. Their primary use is not for gathering food or combat. If the main use was scraping molluscs off the ocean floor or gathering other food, female narwhal would tend to have tusks as well.

All narwhal have two teeth. In males, one extends beyond the skin and becomes the long tusk narwhal are famous for. The other tusk rarely penetrates the skin and grows. When it does, this becomes a rare double-tusk narwhal.

The teeth that do not penetrate the skin are considered teeth and not tusks. Harvest tags are genearlly not issued for teeth. A Marine Mammal Transportation License is required to export the teeth from Nunavut or out of a province.

Most adult male narwhal have tusks that average 6 to 8 feet. It is rare to get tusks that are 9 feet or longer. The longest tusks every seen are about 13' if my memory serves me well.

Non-Natives are not prohibited from selling any edible parts of the narwhal.

Please click here to see pictures of some interesting tusks that we have come across or sold in the past.

Why do we Sell Narwhal Tusks?

Ever since I was a kid reading about polar explorers and Eskimos (Inuit) I have been fascinated by the polar regions.  Narwhal play an important role in the north for both food and art.  I find dealing with northern products very interesting and simply enjoy having Inuit art and products around.  I do not believe that the limited hunting of narwhal by the Inuit is having a deleterious effect on the population of these animals and the sale of the tusks promotes the north and the lives of Inuit.  If it became clear that the harvest of limited quantities of narwhal for food by the Inuit threatened the survival of the narwhal, we would stop selling the tusks.

The Illegal Trade in Narwhal Tusks

Why do people smuggle tusks into the United States or Europe?

For the same reason they smuggle other contraband, such as cocaine, heroin, counterfiet products, and cigarettes: these products are illegal and profitable.

How big is the illegal trade in narwhal tusks?

Given that the legal trade is limited (141 tusks were legally exported from Canada from January 1, 2012 until October 29, 2012, according to CITES Canada) the illegal trade is probably quite small. When someone is caught smuggling tusks it becomes instant news--in part because it is rare.

What are the penalties for smuggling narwhal tusks into the United States?

Two Americans caught smuggling tusks from Canada into Maine face up to 20 years in prison and potential fines of US$250,000 or more.

Testimonials

Jochen from Germany writes:

Today the tusk arrived well and in good shape. I am very impressed and totally happy with it! Thanks for making this possible and thanks for the quick and professional transaction! 

I also have to say that the shipping company in Germany was very helpful and professional. The communication with email and phone was very good and they did the customs and tax declaration very quickly. I did expect much more troubles like going personally to the customs office and so on, but it was really a pleasure. Finally shipping, customs, taxes and fees were another $500, but it was worth it!

The document here one does need to get the import permission in Germany: http://www.bfn.de/fileadmin/MDB/documents/themen/cites/formular-221.pdf

The filled document has to be sent to Mr. Mario Sterz: Mario.Sterz@bfn.de

Probably this information is also helpful for your German clients, I had to do several phonecalls to get through :-)