• Gracie Puit

The Slowest Shark: Greenland Sharks




Overview

Greenland Sharks (Somniosus microcephalus) are considered to be the slowest known shark. Their swimming rates are roughly 1.9 miles per hour. The species is typically found in colder and deep environments, yet they can still be found anywhere between the sea surface and depths of 2,200 meters (about 7,200 feet). Locations they are found, consist of the Arctic Ocean, and The North Atlantic. The sharks are members of the sleeper shark family. The species lifespan is estimated to be anywhere from 300-500 years, making them the longest living vertebrate known.


Appearance


The species of shark have rounded snouts, the fins of the shark are small considering its body size. The maximum length of a Greenland shark is about 7 meters, but most are 2 to 4 meters. When fully grown they can weigh up to 2,260 pounds. Majority of Greenland sharks are blind due to the fact that parasites attach themselves to the sharks cornea. These parasites are called copepods, the coloration of the parasite is pinkish. The species coloration can be multiple different colors, including purple, gray and sometimes violet. Some may describe the sharks as sluggish




Diet

Greenland Sharks are carnivores, meaning their diet consists of other animals. Their diet includes different types of fishes, including smaller sharks, eels, flounders, and sculpins. Crustaceans, seabirds, and carrion are also part of their diet. The sharks also eat reindeer and horses, terrestrial animals that fall through the ice.


Senses

The species have an impeccable sense of smell, they are easily able to find carcasses or dead animals because of that. The sharks teeth are dissimilar, meaning that the each row of teeth is completely different than the other. The teeth on the top of the sharks jaw are slender and pointy while the sharks bottom row of teeth are much larger and smoother. As I said before, the sharks are blind but even if they did have vision it wouldn't help much considering they live in darker environments.


Attacks?

Greenland sharks are not considered a threat to humans because they live in such cold environments. The only possible shark attack known to human was dated back to 1859.


Status Of Conservation

In the past the species was valued for its liver oil, it was fished commercially from the 19nth century until 1960. The flesh of the Greenland shark is edible to humans once it is cleaned properly or boiled repeatedly, otherwise it is considered toxic. 30,000 Greenland Sharks were thought to be caught in a year back in the early 1900's. Now that number has dwindled down to roughly 1,200 per year. As of now the species is considered to be near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


As of today little is known about the species itself, luckily we are still able to know interesting facts about them.


Want to learn more? Check out these sources!

https://www.britannica.com/animal/Greenland-shark

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141028-the-mystery-shark-of-the-arctic

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2016/08/greenland-sharks-animals-science-age/

https://www.sharksider.com/greenland-shark/


Photos: John Smith:

http://fishes-world.blogspot.com/2013/12/greenland-shark.html





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