From Underwater Times:
Jaws Under Ice: Mysterious Arctic Shark Found in Quebec; ‘Their Eyes Swivel and Follow You’
Underwatertimes.com News Service
Drummondville, Canada (Dec 7, 2006 17:44 EST) In the frigid, murky waters of the St. Lawrence River in Québec, UBC marine biologist and veterinarian Chris Harvey-Clark is painting a clearer picture of a mysterious predator that could be the longest-lived vertebrate on the planet.
The Greenland shark typically inhabits the deep, dark waters between Greenland and the polar ice cap.
At over six metres long and weighing up to 2,000 kilograms, it is the largest shark in the North Atlantic and the only shark in the world that lives under Arctic ice.
Once heavily harvested for its vitamin A-rich oil — as many as 50,000 were caught annually according to a 1948 estimate — little is known about the animal.
“All the papers published on the species, including magazine articles, can barely fill two shoeboxes,” says Harvey-Clark, who became fascinated by sharks at age 12 after seeing a photograph in the Ottawa Citizen that depicted an ice fisherman and what he now knows was a Greenland shark.
“All the questions a Grade two class would ask — where do they go, what do they eat, how do they breed, how big do they get or even how long they live — we can’t say for sure.”
Various historic accounts and anecdotes portray the Greenland shark as a scavenger that dwells in extremely deep water — one was spotted at a depth of more than 2,100 metres.
They favour seal carcasses but will eat almost anything — one was found with an entire caribou in its stomach.
The only age analysis to date, by Norwegian researchers, pegs them growing about half a centimetre a year, which would put a seven metre adult at several hundred years old, easily beating the giant tortoise by decades, even centuries.
Blind, but not deaf or dumb – great new footage of the Greenland shark on ARKive: here.
Caribou in Alaska: here.