Seldom seen, with a tusk protruding from what appears to be its head, the narwhal, for the casual observer, may beg the question, what is going on with that whale’s teeth? Eagle Scout John Wilken, the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA), and the Narwhal Discoveries team are exploring that question in depth.
Dubbed the “unicorn of the sea”, the narwhal isn’t a mythological creature. But, with a nearly threatened population, it is pretty rare and a little unbelievable. That is, unless you are studying to be an aquatic biologist, like Wilken.
Full of passion for whale research, this University of California Santa Barbara sophomore applied along with 67 other Eagle Scouts to participate in one of four world-class, once-in-a-lifetime research programs. Among seven of the chosen applicants, Wilken is the only one headed to the northern tip of Baffin Island, Canada in August to study narwhal tusks.
In his video submission – the second round of his application to join the expedition – Wilken explained, “I believe I’m the perfect fit for the narwhal tusk research program, and the program is certainly a perfect fit for me.”
The selection team agreed.
The opportunity came to Wilken thanks to the NESA World Explorers program, which sends qualified Eagle Scouts on expeditions worldwide. These expeditions are much sought after and the stuff biologist dreams are made of. Wilken will join the likes of Dr. Martin Nweeia DMD, DDS, internationally recognized Harvard dental specialist Winston Kuo, veterinarian Padraig Dunignan, and environmental economist Pamela Peeters to prepare research for an upcoming exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution. The expedition is called “Narwhal Transformative Technologies” and will task Wilken with assisting in research and helping with communications for the study.
Check out more of Wilken’s enthusiastic submission video below to learn why this Scout made the cut to journey to the Arctic.