There are a few sharks that most everyone is familiar with. Whether they recognize the infamous Great White in Jaws or the hairy Hammerhead in Pirates of the Carribean, people know these sharks because of the threat they serve to any innocent swimmer floundering about in the water. But what about the sharks that are never seen? And I don’t mean the meek Leopard sharks that glide along the sandy floor. I mean the sharks that are hiding beneath sheets of ice! That’s right, I said it! There is a an actual species of shark that lives beneath the Arctic ice!
The Greenland shark is one of over 400 different species of sharks around the world. However, this shark is extremely unique because it is very rarely seen. And trust me, it’s not due to its size, seeing as on record, they can grow on average to about 6 meters (around 20 feet), weighing 2,000 kilograms (about 4,409 lbs!). Rather, it is because it swims casually in the freezing waters that rest below the miles of ice across the arctic! As expected with such a great barrier between our world and theirs, very little is known and documented about this gentle giant. But with new research being updated as often as possible, these old sharks are starting to become as renown as those who are commonly spotted on the tropical coasts.
According to The University of British Columbia’s article,very little is known about the feeding habits, life-span, average size, migration patterns, or hunting techniques of these creatures. One specialist, Harvey Clark, goes as far as to say that “All the papers published on the species, including magazine articles, can barely fill two shoeboxes.” The article continues on to say that this new species has been around for ages, literally!
“The only age analysis to date, by Norwegian researchers, pegs them growing about half a centimetre a year, which would put a seven metre adult at several hundred years old, easily beating the giant tortoise by decades, even centuries.”
I think all can agree that science still has a very long way to go if they are just recently starting to discover information on sea creatures that can possibly live to hundreds of years old. Three cheers science for trying to step up its game!
Ironically, one of the only things that was considered common knowledge about these sharks was just defied! When I first heard of the Greenland shark I was informed by an old article online that they are so incredibly hard to study because they swim in jaw-dropping depths below the ice and therefore cannot be documented. But recently, Greenland sharks have been spotted in shallow waters of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec! The author comments,
“In 2003, after tracking the enigmatic animal for five years, Harvey-Clark and fellow diving enthusiast Jeffrey Gallant followed leads to Baie-Comeau, a small town about 400 kilometres northeast of Québec City. There, the pair documented — for the first time under natural conditions — Greenland sharks reveling in shallow water.”
Specialists do not know why this phenomenon is occurring. But rather than stand around and ogle at the Greenland group, they are doing what every scientist does best, observing and recording! They hope that by recording information on these trends that are occurring, along with other trends like swimming towards the surface during the early morning and dusk hours, they will be able to find out some definite facts about the sharks, tag them, and hopefully be able to put a stop of all the mystery revolving around these giant sea monsters.
This is a video of a REAL LIFE GREENLAND SHARK swimming in an estuary in St. Lawrence! This gives you a great picture of what the shark looks like wading around in its murky habitat! After all of this research, we only hope that people start to take notice of these slow moving superstars and reevaluate their opinions on my favorite fins!