Click Here! The News is Cold and Not Meant to Muddle,


Sharks Under the Ice!
The teeth are small -
but razor sharp!

Photograph by Nick Caloyianis
Greenland Sharks -
a Mystery for Biologists

We often think of sharks as living in warm or tropical waters. Of the 465 known species of sharks, only eight have been seen in Arctic waters.

The Greenland Shark is one of the most interesting and still somewhat of a mystery for biologists. As one of the largest sharks in the world, it rivals the Great White in size, although it is not as aggressive. Growing to over 6.5 meters (21 feet) in length and weighing up to 900 kilos (2000 lbs.), the Greenland Shark is the largest Arctic fish.

During the winter, the sharks live in deep water that is far beyond the depth range of other sharks, often going as deep as 400-600 meters (1300-2000 ft.). Its territory is along Greenland's coast and throughout the fjord systems, but they can range throughout the Arctic Ocean and as far south as the Gulf of St. Lawrence or the Gulf of Maine.

MAP and
Greenland Sharks are sluggish compared to the Great White. Cruising the frigid waters beneath the ice, they hunt in near darkness and use their keen sense of smell to find food. The darkness is not a great problem as most of these sharks can't see - they've been blinded by parasites that hang from their eyes. The pinkish-white parasites called copepods (koe-puh-pods) attach themselves to the cornea of the eye. One theory is that the parasites dangling down from the eyes act like lures to attract food. When the prey gets close, the shark inhales and is able to suck food in from 3 feet (1 meter) away. Poor manners perhaps - but effective.

This dark brown shark has teeth that are relatively small but razor sharp, and it feeds on fish, seals, Beluga Whale and Narwhal carcasses - and sometimes each other. The flesh of the Greenland Shark can be poisonous to other animals however, and Inuit hunters know not to feed raw shark meat to their dogs because a toxin in the flesh makes the dogs seem drunk.

A short broad tail is ideal for short bursts of acceleration, leading some biologists to believe that the sharks are not as sluggish as they first thought. Even though stories are told of people catching and hauling these sharks onto the shore with their bare hands, stories are also told of sharks attacking caribou as they drink from the mouths of rivers.

Greenland Sharks, Are there Any Arctic Sharks?
Greenland Shark Challenge, The World of Copepods
Narwhal.Info, Beluga Whales, Arctic Animals
Maps, Sunset/Sunrise

Search for more on this topic ... from ATHROPOLIS!
More NEWS Stories | Back to Top | LINKS | HOME

Guide to ARctic Sunrise and Sunset