Meet the world’s oldest-living vertebrate, the Greenland Shark.
sleeper shark, ground shark, grey shark, gurry shark, requin du nord, requin noir, requin dormeur, requin de fond, requin de glace, skalugsuak, ekalugssuaq, iqalugjuaq.
The Greenland shark is the largest member of the Somniosidae family. It is the second largest¹ carnivorous shark after the great white and it is the largest Arctic fish. It is also the longest-living vertebrate animal with a life expectancy of at least 272 years². Its range extends from the Arctic Ocean and Northern Europe to the 32nd parallel north in the Atlantic Ocean. Despite its lethargic appearance, it is a predator capable of short bursts of speed, and under certain conditions may hunt seals and even larger mammals including the beluga whale.
The Greenland shark is very rarely observed because of its bathybenthic habitat that is inaccessible to scuba divers. The first underwater images of a live specimen were taken in the Arctic in 1995, and the first images of a Greenland shark swimming freely under natural circumstances³ were filmed by GEERG in the St. Lawrence Estuary in 2003.
¹ Equal length as the white shark but approximately half the girth.
² Nielsen, J., Hedeholm, R. B., Heinemeier, J., Bushnell, P. G., Christiansen, J. S., 2815 Olsen, J., et al. (2016). Eye lens radiocarbon reveals centuries of longevity in the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus). Science 353, 702–704.
³ Non-invasive shark observation conducted without the use of attractants, capturing, or restraints. All encounters initiated and terminated by the sharks.
Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus).
Illustration © Jeffrey Gallant | ORS | GEERG
Diving with the Greenland Shark
Relation with Man
Size and Appearance