« La peur et l'indifférence mordent plus profondément que tout requin. »

— Jeffrey Gallant, M.Sc., GEERG

Le Groupe d'étude sur les élasmobranches et le requin du Groenland a été officiellement fondé en 2003 suite à trois années d'expéditions inédites dans l'Atlantique-Nord (Nouvelle-Écosse), et dans le fjord du Saguenay (Québec). Aujourd'hui, les activités de recherche et de conservation du GEERG et de l'Observatoire des requins du Québec (ORQ) ne portent plus exclusivement sur le requin du Groenland, mais aussi sur les multiples espèces de requin et de raie fréquentant l'estuaire et le golfe du Saint-Laurent, les provinces maritimes, et l'océan Arctique.

Le requin du Groenland est le plus gros membre de la famille des Somniosidae. Il est le deuxième plus gros requin carnivore après le requin blanc et c'est le plus gros poisson des eaux arctiques. C'est aussi l'animal vertébré ayant la plus longue espérance de vie : 272 ans (Nielsen et al., 2016). De façon générale, son habitat s'étend de l'Arctique et de l'Europe du Nord jusqu'au au 32e parallèle nord dans l'océan Atlantique. ll atteint une taille énorme et malgré son apparence plutôt léthargique, c'est un prédateur capable d'élans spontanés pouvant chasser le phoque et d'autres mammifères tel le béluga sous certaines conditions. (*même longueur)

Le requin du Groenland est très rarement observé à cause de son habitat bathybenthique inaccessible aux plongeurs. Les premières photos d'un spécimen vivant ont été prises en Arctique en 1995, et les premières images vidéo de ce requin évoluant dans un contexte naturel ont été prises dans l'estuaire du Saint-Laurent par l'équipe actuelle du GEERG en 2003.

Le requin du Groenland

Nous étudions l'animal vertébré avec la plus longue durée de vie sur la planète, le requin du Groenland, depuis 1999. Aidez-nous à en faire plus.

Le Groupe d'étude sur les élasmobranches et le requin du Groenland est un organisme à but non-lucratif et une oeuvre de bienfaisance enregistrée qui requiert une aide financière de corporations et d'individus afin d'effectuer ses travaux de recherche et d'éducation. Tous les dons reçus sont déductibles d'impôts au Canada (No. d'enregistrement à l'Agence du revenu du Canada : 834462913RR0001).

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Canada Post should be commended for releasing a new stamp issue featuring a limited selection of sharks found in Canadian waters. The traditionally maligned creatures desperately need good press so these new stamps will serve as a reminder that sharks play a key role in Canadian marine ecosystems and that they should be better understood and protected here and beyond. However, it is unfortunate that the image depicting the Greenland shark was modeled on what was likely a photo of a shark caught and lassoed through the ice in the Canadian Arctic. Although lost to the casual observer, this form of mistreatment, which can result in serious injury or death for the shark (Barkley et al., 2016), is the ultimate paradox too often perpetrated by overzealous photographers working under the guise of conservation. The first clue is the ocular parasite that is virtually absent from the Greenland shark at lower latitudes, including at our study site in the St. Lawrence Estuary. The downward-facing, semi-vertical swimming position, which understandably better fits the dimensions of the stamp, is also indicative of a shark being tied to a rope by its caudal fin (tail), or of a distressed and potentially centuries-old shark making a beeline for the bottom after being released, i.e. discarded, having served its momentary purpose. Although the circumstances having led to the creation of the original photo may not have been known to anyone involved in the design of the stamp, the use of such an image to illustrate the Greenland shark as a Canadian icon is nonetheless akin to portraying the other featured species as hanging from a rope at shark derby. I don’t doubt anyone’s good intentions but the experts that “helped advise artwork creation” should have known that unlike the brightly lit conditions depicted on the stamp, the Greenland shark is primarily a deepwater bottom dweller with an aversion for light, hence that normally swims in a horizontal position just slightly off the bottom using its large nares to search for food in total darkness. Some of the associated news stories (bit.ly/2NWQwnj) also claim that three of the five chosen species are native to Canada and that the remaining two are occasional visitors. In fact, only the Greenland shark is a year-round inhabitant of Canada’s inshore waters, while the other four are seasonal migrants whose birthing areas are hypothetical at best. Furthermore, all of the featured species, including the white shark, have a long history of Canadian sightings and accidental captures in the Maritime provinces, and only the mako shark has not been recorded in Quebec’s St. Lawrence Estuary. The Vancouver Aquarium’s claim (bit.ly/2NrprYn) selon laquelle le requin du Groenland est « parfois capturé par des pêcheurs près de l’embouchure de rivières comme la rivière Saguenay au Québec » n’est aussi que partiellement vraie. En fait, le requin du Groenland est reconnu en tant qu’espèce commune et abondante dans le golfe et l’estuaire du Saint-Laurent, y compris le fjord du Saguenay, depuis près de 200 ans, i.e. il est régulièrement capturé de façon accidentelle dans le Saint-Laurent depuis des siècles. En dépit de ces griefs techniques mineurs, nous espérons que les nouveaux timbres de Postes Canada contribueront à faire en sorte que ces impressionnants requins demeurent un élément permanent du patrimoine naturel de notre planète pendant encore de nombreux siècles !

— Jeffrey Gallant, M.Sc. | Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group

A Google image search using the words "Greenland shark under ice" mostly results in photos of sharks in the same posture as the shark illustrated on the stamp. As described above, the sharks are either tied to a rope or are headed for the bottom after being released. Don't be fooled by some of the images where the shark is "swimming" horizontally. A quick look at the vertical position of the ice cover, which should be floating horizontally at the surface, shows that the image was rotated, i.e. Photoshopped, to make the distraught shark appear to swim in its normal position. Notice any resemblance? goo.gl/AVl5y

For more on the controversial topic of Greenland shark photography: www.geerg.ca/hooked-on-conservation.html

The following study, which assessed blood lactate and glucose in 46 captured Greenland sharks, found a correlation between depth and increased concentrations of stress metabolites. These capture-related stressors "alter the internal homeostasis of fish and can potentially result in both lethal and sub-lethal physiological and behavioral impairments post-release."

Barkley, A.N., S.J. Cooke, A.T. Fisk, K. Hedges and N.E. Hussey. 2016. Capture-induced stress in deep-water Arctic fish. Polar Biology. DOI: 10.1007/s00300-016-1928-8.
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Canada Post should be commended for releasing a new stamp issue featuring a limited selection of sharks found in Canadian waters. The traditionally maligned creatures desperately need good press so these new stamps will serve as a reminder that sharks play a key role in Canadian marine ecosystems and that they should be better understood and protected here and beyond. However, it is unfortunate that the image depicting the Greenland shark was modeled on what was likely a photo of a shark caught and lassoed through the ice in the Canadian Arctic. Although lost to the casual observer, this form of mistreatment, which can result in serious injury or death for the shark (Barkley et al., 2016), is the ultimate paradox too often perpetrated by overzealous photographers working under the guise of conservation. The first clue is the ocular parasite that is virtually absent from the Greenland shark at lower latitudes, including at our study site in the St. Lawrence Estuary. The downward-facing, semi-vertical swimming position, which understandably better fits the dimensions of the stamp, is also indicative of a shark being tied to a rope by its caudal fin (tail), or of a distressed and potentially centuries-old shark making a beeline for the bottom after being released, i.e. discarded, having served its momentary purpose. Although the circumstances having led to the creation of the original photo may not have been known to anyone involved in the design of the stamp, the use of such an image to illustrate the Greenland shark as a Canadian icon is nonetheless akin to portraying the other featured species as hanging from a rope at shark derby. I don’t doubt anyone’s good intentions but the experts that “helped advise artwork creation” should have known that unlike the brightly lit conditions depicted on the stamp, the Greenland shark is primarily a deepwater bottom dweller with an aversion for light, hence that normally swims in a horizontal position just slightly off the bottom using its large nares to search for food in total darkness. Some of the associated news stories (https://bit.ly/2NWQwnj) also claim that three of the five chosen species are native to Canada and that the remaining two are occasional visitors. In fact, only the Greenland shark is a year-round inhabitant of Canada’s inshore waters, while the other four are seasonal migrants whose birthing areas are hypothetical at best. Furthermore, all of the featured species, including the white shark, have a long history of Canadian sightings and accidental captures in the Maritime provinces, and only the mako shark has not been recorded in Quebec’s St. Lawrence Estuary. The Vancouver Aquarium’s claim (https://bit.ly/2NrprYn) that the Greenland shark is “sometimes caught by fishermen near the mouths of rivers such as the Saguenay River in Quebec” is also only partly true. In fact, the Greenland shark has been documented as a common and plentiful species throughout the St. Lawrence Gulf and Estuary, including the Saguenay Fjord, for nearly 200 years, i.e. they have been caught all over the St. Lawrence for centuries. Aside from these minor technical grievances, here’s to hoping the new stamps by Canada Post will help ensure these amazing sharks remain a permanent fixture of our planet’s natural heritage for many more centuries to come!— Jeffrey Gallant, M.Sc. | Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research GroupA Google image search using the words Greenland shark under ice mostly results in photos of sharks in the same posture as the shark illustrated on the stamp. As described above, the sharks are either tied to a rope or are headed for the bottom after being released. Dont be fooled by some of the images where the shark is swimming horizontally. A quick look at the vertical position of the ice cover, which should be floating horizontally at the surface, shows that the image was rotated, i.e. Photoshopped, to make the distraught shark appear to swim in its normal position. Notice any resemblance? http://goo.gl/AVl5yFor more on the controversial topic of Greenland shark photography: http://www.geerg.ca/hooked-on-conservation.htmlThe following study, which assessed blood lactate and glucose in 46 captured Greenland sharks, found a correlation between depth and increased concentrations of stress metabolites. These capture-related stressors alter the internal homeostasis of fish and can potentially result in both lethal and sub-lethal physiological and behavioral impairments post-release.Barkley, A.N., S.J. Cooke, A.T. Fisk, K. Hedges and N.E. Hussey. 2016. Capture-induced stress in deep-water Arctic fish. Polar Biology. DOI: 10.1007/s00300-016-1928-8.

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Thank Jeff 💝

Awesome!!

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