Biologists in a recent marine study made an extraordinary discovery: a cold-water shark, the Greenland shark, was found thousands of miles away from its typical habitat.
This remarkable find occurred in the warm waters of the tropical Caribbean Sea, presenting an intriguing mystery. The discovery took place during a research expedition in which scientists were tagging and temporarily capturing tiger sharks off the coast of Belize.
Initially, there was uncertainty about the identity of the shark, with some speculating it might be a six-gill shark, a known deep-sea predator.
However, upon closer examination and the capture of photographs, it was determined that the shark was most likely a Greenland shark.
Here is all you want to know about this extraordinary Greenland shark.
Devanshi Kasana, a biologist and Ph.D. candidate at Florida International University, described the encounter as observing a slow-moving, sluggish creature reminiscent of prehistoric times.
Greenland sharks have earned the distinction of being the Earth’s longest-living vertebrates, with lifespans ranging from 250 to 500 years, as reported by the National Ocean Service.
These sharks dwell in the depths of the ocean, thousands of feet beneath the surface, in perpetual darkness, making them rarely observed or photographed.
Consequently, there remains much mystery surrounding their long lifespans, growth patterns, and lifestyles, all of which are adapted to the nutrient-scarce deep-sea environment.
This discovery has prompted questions about the shark’s origins, including whether it migrated from Arctic waters to the Caribbean or whether it spent a significant portion of its life in the tropical Caribbean depths.
Greenland sharks are known as scavengers, with a diet encompassing various prey, both living and deceased, such as fish, seals, polar bears, and even whales.
Some Greenland sharks can attain lengths of up to 24 feet and weigh as much as 2,645 pounds (1,200 kilograms), despite their extraordinarily slow annual growth rate of just 0.4 inches (1 centimeter).