#SharkWeek: Greenland Shark – Fascinating and Somewhat Unknown

#SharkWeek: Greenland Shark – Fascinating and Somewhat Unknown

This week during #SharkWeek we’ve already covered the Ninja Lanternshark in our quest to talk about a couple of diverse sharks this week.  You can read that article there, and you can read our article debunking some shark myths here.


Today, we’re going to talk about the Greenland shark.  It’s not one of the most unknown sharks in the world, but it definitely isn’t up there in popularity alongside the Great White.  This is probably because a horror movie hasn’t been made about the Greenland shark, though they are creatures just about the size of a Great White.  In fact, the Greenland shark is the second largest shark — that’s a carnivore, anyway.


These sharks are absolutely fascinating and scientists are trying to find out as much as they possibly can about them.  It’s very hard to find out anything about these sharks, however, and there’s actually very little we know about the Greenland shark.  Why?


Well part of the problem is that we’ve only recently gotten footage of these sharks at all.  1995 was the first time we got images of these sharks, and it was until eight years later that we got the first video of them swimming in their natural habitat.


Another reason we don’t have a lot of information on them is because these sharks like it cold.  These sharks make their home in the North Atlantic around areas like Canada, Iceland, and of course, Greenland.  They’re the only shark (that we know of) that can tolerate these temperatures for long periods of time.  Something we do know is that during the summer months, the sharks travel deeper into the water to stay cooler.  In the winter months, they make it back up to the surface.


There are a few things, of course, that we know about these sharks that are absolute fact.  For example, though they are close to Great White sizes, we have no reason to fear them. Sharks aren’t out for human blood, and the Greenland Shark has only been responsible for one reported human attack.  The key word is “reported”, however. This attack was never investigated or proven.


Greenland Shark


Something else we do know about the Greenland shark is a little bit about those parasites we see on so many of their eyes.  These parasites are extremely common, and they actually do render the shark partially blind.  Greenland sharks can make their way through, however, because they rely on other senses to make it around those deep and extremely dark waters.


As far as things we’d like to find out go, the biggest on the list is how long these sharks live, and why they live so long.  It’s been predicted that these sharks can live up to be at least 200 years old, but no one is quite sure why.  If this estimate is correct, these sharks may be the “longest-lived vertebrates” on the planet.

Do you think Greenland Sharks are cool? What else do you know about them? Tweet us @OfficialFemSTEM to start the discussion!

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