the narwhal

Northern Lexicon | The Narwhal

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Living in the cold waters of the Arctic, the narwhal is an impressive looking whale. It can be recognized by its huge, iconic tooth, which can reach up to three meters in length! This is useful for hunting prey or defending against predators. Unfortunately, the species is now in decline, mainly due to maritime traffic and the loss of its habitat, which has been transformed by climate change.

Do you want to discover this magnificent animal? Marie-Christine Lafrenière, a PhD candidate in biology and an artist, has created an infographic for you. 

This fact sheet is the first in a series of six about northern wildlife. The others will be published on INQ's various platforms in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. Each fact sheet is accompanied by a coloring sheet of the featured animal in its habitat. Something to educate and entertain the whole family!

Don't wait any longer to introduce this surprising animal to the little ones around you!


About Marie-Christine Lafrenière

Status: PhD student (beginning of 4th year)
Supervisor: Marc Amyot
Co-supervision: Jean-François Lapierre
Department: biology
Research interests: ecotoxicology, freshwater ecology, biogeochemistry, environmental chemistry
Thesis topic: Fate of rare (earth) metals in the St. Lawrence River


Marie-Christine Lafrenière, who holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology (UdeM 2015-2018), is currently a PhD student in Biology at the Université de Montréal. Specifically, she is studying ecotoxicology, freshwater ecology and biogeochemistry. Her doctoral research aims to understand the fate of rare earth metals, metals that occur naturally in Canadian soils and are used in the design of green or digital technologies, in the water, sediments and organisms of the St. Lawrence River. Originally from the north shore of Lake St. Pierre and a true enthusiast of the Quebec river landscape, she spent several summers navigating the river and its tributaries to collect her samples and develop an integrated understanding of the system.

Also interested in scientific communication, she has organized several conferences for academic audiences and several for the general public (Women and Science, Journey of a Biologist, Demystifying the St. Lawrence, The Paradox of the Energy Transition). She has also led thematic workshops on water for students as part of a university group and to the general public as part of the Eureka! festival. Her commentaries on current events and the environment can be read alongside those of law students in the newspaper Le Pigeon Dissident. In addition, Marie-Christine defines herself as a biologist-artist and develops her artistic vision in conjunction with her scientific interests in her paintings, in her graphic design commissions, notably in computer graphics for Institut Nordique du Québec, or in the creation of a comic book to illustrate her own research. 

Currently, she shares the microphone with her friend Stéphanie, hosting the Les Lucioles podcast about undergraduate research in biology. When she's not writing her thesis or developing the podcast, you can find her outdoors, reading a feminist novel, writing a poem, or researching a new vegan recipe.  

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