The Biggest 'Frozen' Shark You've Never Seen
The first photos of this thing weren't even taken until 1995
It’s a huge, slow-moving species of shark that swims through the world’s coldest waters, and the first-ever pictures of it were taken in 1995.
No, it’s not the protagonist of our as-yet-unmade shark movie, ColdShark. It’s the Greenland shark, and it’s our new favorite species of shark.
Why? Well, for one, they look kind of goofy-cute, with their little eyes, stubby snout and short fins. For another, they’re extremely slow-moving. Their average speed is about .76 miles per hour, but when they want, they can crank things up to a blistering 1.7 miles per hour. (A little under half as fast as the average person walks.) We love a lazy predator – even if Greenland sharks can grow to be up to 21 feet long, same as a great white.
The sharks tend to stay in the cold waters of the Arctic and North Atlantic – deep down – though they’ve been spotted off the coasts of Georgia (the state, not the country), Canada, Portugal, France, Scotland and Scandinavia.
“They may be everywhere that’s cold enough and deep enough,” Aaron MacNeil of the Australian Institute of Marine Science told the BBC.
Up until the 1960s, Greenland sharks were widely harvested, which fell off as their usefulness declined. (Synthetic oils replaced their liver oil in industrial usage and lamp oil; the meat of the Greenland shark is toxic and only edible if fermented for weeks as part of a traditional Icelandic dish.)
Greenland sharks eat a lot of fish, but they’ve also turned up with seal, reindeer, horse, moose and polar bear parts in their guts. Researchers speculate these larger meals were carcasses that fell into the water; it’s unlikely the slow-moving sharks could’ve caught an animal as fast as a seal.
So, here’s to the Greenland shark – lazily swimming through the coldest, deepest parts of the world, eating whatever’s convenient. Life is hard: We should all take a cue from the Greenland shark and chill out a bit more.