Friday, 7 February 2014


No other shark lives closer to the North Pole than the Greenland Shark (also called Sleeper Shark). This cold water giant is closely related to the Pacific Sleeper Shark and grows to 6.5-7 metres in length and a weight of over 1000 kg. 

Greenland Sharks live in the North Atlantic near Greenland and Iceland where they range into water as deep as 2000 metres. Greenland Sharks are ovoviviparous which means that the eggs hatch inside the female and live pups are born. Scientists believe that it may live to be about 400 years old.

The Greenland Shark (and Sleeper Shark) has the reputation of being very slow and sluggish when caught. Divers report that Greenland sharks are not threatening and are slow swimmers but we may not know the full story of these huge predators. The native Inuit people have legends of sharks attacking their boats.

Examination of Greenland Shark stomachs shows that at times they can be fast and hungry. Contents include squid, fish, polar bears, reindeer, horses, and other Greenland Sharks. William Sommers reports that he has seen Greenland sharks snatching caribou from the water's edge.

It is reported that Greenland Sharks have a problem with parasites (copepods) that attack their eyes. The parasites cause scars that interfere with the shark’s sight. Sharks have a number of senses that detect prey and good eye-sight may not be critical for this species.

The flesh of the Greenland Shark contains a powerful neurotoxin and is poisonous to eat. They seem to be immune to their own poison and are able to eat each other.

Teeth photo are from Canadian Shark Res. Lab.

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