To order call    1.800.206.6544 (Canada / US)   +1.416.232.0376 (International).     $75 order minimum

PLEASE NOTE:  Effective November 1, 2012, all new orders of this product will be handled by the new Canadian company Polar Art & Exotics, Inc. in Toronto which will specialize in products from the Canadian North. 

Please go to for the new Polar Art & Exotics, Inc. website.  This webpage will be deleted soon.

Narwhal Tusks


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 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:

Rare Tusks

#1 Tusks

#2 Tusks

#3 Craft Tusks

Selection Process

Inspection in Toronto

Ordering and Payment Terms for International Orders

Sales within Ontario

Sales within Canada

Purchases of Tusks by Chichester within Canada

Export Controls from Canada

Import Controls in Your Country


Return Policy

Care of the Tusks

Cleaning Tusks

Using Tusks for Arts and Crafts and Other Legal Questions


Press Inquiries

Genus and Species

What is CITES?

Notes on the Tusks

Why do we Sell Narwhal Tusks?


Gallery of Rare Narwhal Tusks for Sale


Please go to for the new Polar Art & Exotics, Inc. website.


Gallery of #1 Narwhal Tusks for Sale


Please go to for the new Polar Art & Exotics, Inc. website.


Gallery of #2 Narwhal Tusks for Sale


Please go to for the new Polar Art & Exotics, Inc. website.


Gallery of #3 Craft Narwhal Tusks for Sale


Please go to for the new Polar Art & Exotics, Inc. website.


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 ( 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 the deposit 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.

  • You make a 10% non-refundable deposit (minimum deposit is US$500.00) to reserve the tusk until we both have obtained permits.  This deposit can be paid by credit card, PayPal, or wire transfer.

3. CITES and other documents:

  • If you require a veterinary health certificate (Turkey is the only country that we currently know of that requires this -- also see Shipping notes below) we can apply for one from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.  There is a non-refundable fee of US$250.00 to get the veterinary certificate. 

  • We fill out the Canadian CITES application and obtain the CITES export permit from Fisheries & Oceans in Canada.  The CITES permit is generally valid for export from Canada for six months from the time of issue.  All of the tusks we have offered for sale that we state are exportable are eligible for a prompt CITES export permit.  If the tusk is not shipped prior to the expiration of the permit, we must return the permit to Fisheries & Oceans to be cancelled.  Once the permit expires the tusk is no longer reserved and will be available for sale to other customers.  You will lose your deposit and your order will be cancelled unless you let us know you still want the tusk.  We will require another US$500.00 non-refundable deposit to reserve the tusk and apply for a replacement CITES permit.

  • We will e-mail a copy of the CITES export permit to you so you can apply for an 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 the tusks and can be shipped as soon as we have the Canadian export permit. 

  • 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 once you have the permit.  

4.  Final payment and shipping:

  • We will then send you wire instructions for our bank account in Toronto.  You wire the outstanding balance to our account.  We do not accept credit cards or PayPal transfers for final payment on the balance due.  Failure to pay within 45 days will result in our cancellation of your order, the loss of your deposit, and the loss of your ability to order from us again. 

  • Upon confirmation of the wire, we then pack up the tusk and have Beacon International (our freight forwarder in Toronto) ship this to you by air freight collect.  Beacon International will call you with the freight costs.  It normally takes our forwarder two business days to pick up the tusk, submit the paperwork, and deliver the tusk 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.

  • We will update our records to show who bought the tusk and where it was shipped.

  • 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 The Chichester Group 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 will be charged on all shipments within Canada.  A 10% non-refundable deposit (with a minimum of US$500.00) is required prior to us obtaining transportation permits.  Payment in full is required prior to shipping.  Failure to pay within 45 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.

A copy of the original marine mammal transportation permit issued to bring the tusk into Ontario is not required to be provided by The Chichester Group 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 business week for us to schedule an appointment with a fisheries officer to get this permit. There is no cost for this permit.

Purchases of Tusks by Chichester 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:

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 China are permitted with a corresponding CITES import permit issued prior to importation.  The authorities were prompt in answering questions about importing the tusks.  This information was last reviewed in February 2011.

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. 

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 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.

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. 

We believe that imports to Japan are prohibited, but have not researched this.  We do know of one man who recently imported a pre-CITES tusk from Canada to Japan in early 2010.  We are not sure what the status is for new tusks. An exporter in Europe said that he recently shipped two tusks to Japan in late 2010 or early 2011.

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 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.

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.


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. 

All shipments are sent freight collect, i.e., you pay the shipping costs.  The tusks must be shipped by a freight forwarder because the permits need to be stamped by Canada Customs prior to leaving Canada and stamped again upon entry into your country.  The freight forwarder we use is Beacon International. They are a specialist in the fur industry and is probably the most reliable shipper in Canada.  Unfortunately, narwhal tusks are highly controlled and cannot be sent using regular couriers (UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.) or by mail.  They cannot transit the U.K. or the U.S. either as they will be seized. We usually ship on a direct flight to the destination country. Individuals cannot take the tusks with them as baggage on an airplane.

The freight rates to Europe have been about US$250 to US$300 for tusks.  This includes pick up in Toronto, paperwork, export clearance with Canada customs, and air freight with the airline.  All of these costs are minimums, so the size of the tube / tusk does not make much difference.  It costs the same to send baby tusks as it does to send a seven foot tusk.  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. 

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 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.

We have experience packing the tusks to ensure safe shipment and have not had any problems with breakage.  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.  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.

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. 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. We can do further treatment here if required.

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.


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 Chichester 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 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.


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:

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

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