GREENLAND SHARK DISTRIBUTION

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The distribution of the Greenland shark extends from the Arctic Ocean and Northern Europe to the 32nd parallel north in the Atlantic Ocean, including the St. Lawrence Estuary. It is one of only two sharks (with the Pacific sleeper shark, Somniosus pacificus) known to tolerate Arctic temperatures yearround. In the province of Québec, its presence has been recorded throughout the Saguenay Fjord, and it has also been observed in the lower reaches of Hudson Bay (James Bay) (Gallant, unpublished data).

 

The Greenland shark inhabits cold-water environments (-1.6°C to 16.1°C) (Gallant et al, 2016) although seasonal variations determine its migration up or down the water column. In the summer, it spends more time at depth where the water is coldest. In winter, it often rises to the ice-covered surface layer, which is colder than the water on the sea floor.

 

ST. LAWRENCE: Although Somniosus microcephalus is commonly known as the Greenland shark, its presence in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which has been documented for nearly two centuries, is neither recent nor is it related to climate change.

 

GULF OF MEXICO: DNA testing contradicts the reported capture of a Greenland shark in the Gulf of Mexico in 2013. The shark caught by Florida State University was either Somniosus pacificus or a hybrid sleeper shark.

 

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AUTHOR: Jeffrey Gallant

LAST MODIFIED: October 23, 2016

Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group (GEERG)

Quebec Shark Observatory (QSO)

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