“Fear and apathy bite deeper than any shark.”

— Jeffrey Gallant, M.Sc., GEERG

The Greenland Shark & Elasmobranch Education & Research Group was officially founded in 2003 following three years of novel expeditions in the North Atlantic Ocean (Nova Scotia) and Saguenay Fjord (Québec). Today, GEERG research and conservation activities no longer focus exclusively on the Greenland shark, but also on the many shark, skate and ray species that inhabit the St. Lawrence Gulf and Estuary, the Canadian maritime provinces, and the Arctic.

The Greenland shark is the largest member of the Somniosidae family. It is the second largest 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 years (Nielsen et al., 2016). Its range extends from the Arctic Ocean and Northern Europe to the 32nd parallel north in the Atlantic Ocean. It reaches an enormous size and 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 rarely observed because of its bathybenthic environment that is inaccessible to divers. The first underwater photos of a live specimen were taken in the Arctic in 1995, and the first video images of a Greenland shark swimming freely under natural conditions were filmed by GEERG in the St. Lawrence in 2003.

Our mission to study the world’s oldest vertebrate, the Greenland shark, began in 1999. Help us do more.

The Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group is a not-for-profit registered Canadian charity that requires financial assistance from corporations and private citizens to conduct field operations. All donations are tax deductible in Canada (Canada Revenue Agency Registration Number: 834462913RR0001) and also in the United States. American donations are made through SRI (Shark Research Institute), a non-profit 501(c)(3) scientific research organization.

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(Français ici-bas) North Shore of the St. Lawrence (Côte-Nord), I love you! After having changed the course of my life with the Greenland shark in Baie-Comeau, you once again warm this scientist’s heart thanks to the Chouinard-Brousseau family in Baie-Trinité. This new page of my North Shore adventure opened in August. While Kathy Brousseau and her son Justin were beach-combing for sharp stones to make a spear, they came across an odd-looking pointy object half-buried in the sand. Justin straight away told his mother that it looked like a shark tooth. That same evening, his father—Pascal Chouinard—told me the story backed by photos that left me speechless. It was obviously a shark tooth and not from just any species: it was from the most famous shark of them all, the white shark, which hasn’t been officially documented on the North Shore of the St. Lawrence since 1949! As soon as I'd set foot inside the discoverers’ cottage last Sunday, I examined the tooth closely and the verdict was without appeal. I was holding in my hand the eroded remnant of a smile from Carcharodon carcharias that had washed ashore a stone's throw from Rocher des Pommes de Terre (Potato Rock), and only a short distance from nearby Islets-Caribou where two white sharks were observed in 1942 and 1943. Tossed about and battered for an indefinite period of time by the raging storms and ice of the Gulf, the tooth will migrate once more and against all odds back to the tropics where it used to wait out the North Atlantic winter. This time, however, it will be for a DNA test and to be dated at a university research facility in Florida. What secrets will it reveal? Will we discover the shark’s lineage? Did it witness the many shipwrecks that occurred at the demarcation between the Gulf and the St. Lawrence Estuary? Thank you so very much to the Chouinard-Brousseau family for entrusting me with this unexpected treasure for the duration of the tests and thus contribute to the advancement of knowledge on this much-maligned and endangered shark. To be continued… — Jeffrey Gallant, M.Sc., Scientific Director of GEERG and of the Quebec Shark Observatory

(Français)
Côte-Nord, je t’aime ! Après avoir changé le cours de ma vie avec le requin du Groenland à Baie-Comeau, voilà que tu combles à nouveau mon cœur de scientifique grâce à la famille Chouinard-Brousseau à Baie-Trinité. Cette nouvelle page de mon aventure nord-côtoise s’ouvre en août. Alors que Kathy Brousseau et son fils Justin scrutent la plage à la recherche de pierres pointues pour confectionner une lance, voilà qu’ils tombent sur un étrange objet tranchant à demi enfoui dans le sable. Justin dit dès lors à sa mère que cela ressemble à une dent de requin. Le soir même, son père— Pascal Chouinard—me raconte l’histoire avec pour preuve des photos qui me laissent bouche bée. C’est de toute évidence une dent de requin et non le moindre : elle provient du plus célèbre des squales au monde, le requin blanc, qui n’a pas été officiellement recensé sur la Côte-Nord depuis 1949 ! Sitôt rendu au chalet des sympathiques découvreurs dimanche dernier, je m’empresse d’examiner la dent de près et le verdict est sans appel. Je tiens dans ma main un bout de sourire érodé de Carcharodon carcharias qui s’est échoué à quelques encablures du Rocher des Pommes de Terre, non loin du lieu d’observation de deux requins blancs aux Islets-Caribou en 1942 et 1943. Brassée pendant une période indéterminée par les tempêtes et les glaces impitoyables du golfe, la dent migrera à nouveau et contre tout espoir vers les tropiques où elle passait jadis ses hivers. Cette fois-ci, ce sera pour subir un test d’ADN et pour être datée dans un centre de recherche universitaire en Floride. Quels secrets nous révélera-t-elle ? Connaîtrons-nous la lignée du requin ? A-t-elle été témoin des multiples naufrages survenus à la démarcation entre le golfe et l’estuaire du Saint-Laurent ? Merci infiniment à la famille Chouinard-Brousseau de me faire confiance avec ce trésor inespéré le temps de réaliser les tests et ainsi contribuer à l’avancement des connaissances sur ce requin mal-aimé et en voie de disparition. À suivre… — Jeffrey Gallant, M.Sc., Directeur scientifique du GEERG et de l’Observatoire des requins du Québec
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