Inspiration / Wildlife / Greenland Shark

Greenland Shark

This strange species is one of the world's greatest mysteries, but we love the story of the Greenland Shark. It is the world's second-largest carnivore shark, surpassed only by the white shark.

The shark is also known as the gurry shark or the grey shark. The Inuit call the Greenland shark Eqalussuaq, which means shark or big fish in Greenlandic. It is also known as the sleepy shark as it moves very slowly. The Greenland shark lives in the seas around Greenland and Iceland, and it is the northernmost of all shark species in the world.

The Greenland Sharks – the mysterious giants

The Greenland shark prefers cold waters and will mostly stay in deep water during the summer season. However, you may be lucky to see it during the winter period, as it sometimes comes to the surface.

The Greenland shark can get very big and old which, combined with its black and gray colors, also makes it more interesting. It is surprising how this slow animal can catch prey such as seals and fish, as they are clearly moving far faster in the water.

Parts of polar bears, reindeer, horses, and moose have been found in the belly of the Greenland shark, suggesting that they are opportunistic predators and even scavengers.

The Greenland shark is almost blind

As mentioned earlier, the Greenland shark lives mostly in deep water in total darkness. It can dive an incredible 2.8 km (about 9,000 ft) where visibility is really poor. However, visibility does not mean much to the Greenland shark, as it has very poor vision due to a parasite, which makes the shark almost blind. The consequence of its poor vision is that the Greenland shark has a great sense of smell and can sense muscle movement in animals around it; good qualities when living in the dark.

The shark with poisonous skin

As if this information isn’t enough to make the shark strange, the skin of the Greenland shark is toxic. If you eat the skin of the Greenland shark, you usually get very sick and, in some cases, people have died from eating it. However, if it is prepared properly, the Inuit consider the meat a big delicacy.

How big does the Greenland shark get?

The Greenland Shark can grow up to be 7 meters long (24 ft) and weigh up to 1 tonne (2,000 pounds). However, most sharks are 3-5 meters in length.

How old can the Greenland shark get?

The Greenland sharks live in very deep water in total darkness, which makes them incredibly difficult to observe and, therefore, they are considered something of a mystery.

Some scientists believe that these sharks can live for more than 300 years, with some individuals growing as old as 500 years.

The legends of the Greenland shark

One of the legends of the Inuit culture that involves the Greenland shark is called Skalugsuak. The legend comes from the sharks poisonous skin and is build up of several different origin stories about the first Greenland shark.

The giant Sedna rules the sea creates of the deep oceans. She was out to the deep seas by her father after having attacked both her parents. The girl tried to keep alive by clinging to her fathers kayak, but he cut off her fingers. Her huge fingers then turned into the creatures of the ocean, like the seals, walrus and whales.

Another story mentions an old woman who washed her hair in urin and dried it with a cloth. The cloth was then swept out to sea and became Skalugsuak in Sednas stock pot.

The Inuits from Nunavut believe that the shark lives in the urin of Sedna. This has made the sharks skin toxic with a smell of urin. It is believed to help souls in their communication with the Sharmans.

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