Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Greenland Shark

The Greenland shark isn’t the type of predator that often gets mentioned on TV shows or dramatized in movies. However, this giant, slow-moving resident of the North Atlantic may deserve the spotlight every once in a while for its potentially record-setting size and lifespan.
Photo: Discovery
Also known as sleeper sharks, the largest Greenland shark ever recorded was 21 feet long. However, it is believed that these sharks can exceed 24 feet in length. If this is the case, the Greenland shark would be the largest predatory shark in the world, even surpassing the great white; only filter-feeding basking sharks and whale sharks are larger.

Part of the reason this shark is so difficult to study is because of the extreme depths at which it lives. Greenland sharks have been recorded at depths of more than 7000 feet, and usually only come to the surface near ice floes in the winter.

Greenland sharks are thought to be ambush predators, pinning and consuming a large variety of bottom-dwelling fish and crustaceans. They are also known to be scavengers, and like many sharks will eat just about anything, living or not, that they can find. Despite their size, Greenland sharks are notoriously sluggish by nature and are not considered dangerous to humans.

The exact lifespan of the Greenland shark is uncertain. However, scientists have determined that they grow at an extremely slow rate of less than one centimeter per year. If this is the case, fully grown adults specimens may be well over 200 years old, making this shark the longest-lived vertebrate on the planet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if you can buy a Greenland Shark model/rubber toy like the animal planet sea creatures? I have a 5 year old grandson that wants one. I have looked everywhere I could think of!