A Rare Sighting of the Elusive Greenland Shark

The shark was seen far from its icy habitat.


A Rare Sighting of the Elusive Greenland Shark | The shark was seen far from its icy habitat.

The longest-living vertebrates in the world, the Greenland shark has rarely been seen by people. These sharks live thousands of feet underwater and have a lifetime of 250 to 500 years but their habitat makes them very elusive.

However, over the course of 2023 and 2024 the shark has been sighted twice, according to Science Alert. Once, when one washed ashore in Greenland, and the second time surprisingly, in the Caribbean. 

100-years young
In January of 2023, according to the Miami Herald, a large sea creature washed up on the cold and rocky shores of Avannarliit in Greenland. The wildlife officers called to the site identified the creature as a Greenland shark, only a bit over 100 years young. 

Greenland sharks can live from anywhere from 250 years to 500 years. At about 100 years old, the 13-foot female shark that washed up on the shore was apparently just reaching her fertile years, though even that is up for debate. Greenland sharks spend their lives slowly trawling through the depths of the Arctic Ocean, and very little is actually known about their lives and reproductive habits. 

Though, unfortunately, the Greenland shark had been likely killed by fishermen, researchers were able to take tissue samples from the shark and also preserve its head, saving these items for future research.

A tropical vacation?
A few months later, in September of 2024, scientists tagging and releasing tiger sharks off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean were shocked when they encountered a huge Greenland shark,reported Science Alert. The shark was ostensibly far, far away from its usual Arctic territory. The results of this rare sighting was recently published in the science journal Marine Biology.

“We suddenly saw a very slow-moving, sluggish creature under the surface of the water," Devanshi Kasana, a biologist and Ph.D. candidate at Florida International University's Predator Ecology and Conservation lab, said in the study. “It looked like something that would exist in prehistoric times.”

Though it was possible that the shark was just taking a tropical vacation,it is also plausible that it actually lives in the area, according to Science Alert. The reef off of Belize slopes down a whopping 9,500 feet, making its cold and dark environs the perfect spot for the slow-moving, slow-aging shark. Because they are so elusive, it is simply impossible to say. 

The depths of the oceans are one of the last frontiers. From Greenland sharks to vampire squids, the living creatures in the depths are mostly a mystery to humanity. As the washed-up shark in Greenland and the unexpected Caribbean shark sighting indicate, there is still so much to learn.

Sharks Thrive in the Heart of a Popular Vacation Hub
Canada Creates Conservation Area to Protect Arctic Lands and Waters
Scientific Expedition Reveals Sounds From the “Unicorns of the Sea”!