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Greenland Shark Facts Because “SHARK WEEK!”

Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus)

Greenland sharks are seriously interesting sharks, so I was really looking forward to doing the Info portion of this post. ๐Ÿ™‚ I had also intended to include an illustration like I did for my recent Whale Shark Post, but 1.) Greenland sharks are kind of wonky to try to draw/color (at least for me) and 2.) My access to scanners is much more limited at the moment than I had anticipated. So thank you google images! Phew! Excuses aside, onto the info:

Greenland sharks are part of the family of sharks known as Somniosidae, more commonly known as “sleeper sharks”. As the name would imply, this group of sharks are the more mellow of the bunch, swimming at lower speeds and just being pretty “chill” in general. The Greenland shark specifically is known to be the world’s slowest shark, not even reaching 1 mile per hour.

Other names for the Greenland shark include: the “gurry shark”, “grey shark”, and “eqalussuaq“.

These guys get old. Like, realllly old. Being the longest-living of all vertebrate species, these big guys are estimated to be capable of living for anywhere between 200 to even 500 years!


Many people tend to only think of sharks living in warmer waters, but Greenland sharks prefer the cold. In fact, they can be found thriving in Arctic and sub-Arctic waters year round, making the waters around Greenland, Iceland, and Canada their home.

Comparable in size with the Great White, these predators have never been recorded to attack humans. They sustain themselves by hunting and scavenging, and have been found with some interesting things in their stomachs when caught. (One particular Greenland shark on record was even found with the body of an entire reindeer in its stomach!) Due to their slow speed, scientists were surprised that these guys were able to prey on living seals which can travel so much faster . . . until they discovered that Greenland sharks were nomming on the speedy little guys while they were sleeping under water.


Due to the depths these guys like to hang out in, their tissue is loaded with a potent neurotoxin (trimethylamine oxide) making their meat toxic. Despite this, they are still hunted for food, and through a lengthy and longstanding process involving fermentation and curing of the meat, they are not only eaten, but even considered a delicacy in Iceland.

There are loads of other awesome things to learn about these sharks whether it comes to them themselves or the mythology that surrounds them. Seriously, if you’re looking for an interesting shark to research, look no further than the Greenland shark. They may not be much to look at to most, but they truly are fascinating. ๐Ÿ™‚



18 thoughts on “Greenland Shark Facts Because “SHARK WEEK!”

  1. OMG, stuff of nightmares right there…
    Ok, i admit, they don’t look as terrifying as those sharks with the massive teeth and proper mean look, but i still wouldn’t want to encounter these. Good thing i don’t like cold water, so i guess the chances of meeting one are pretty much zero ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I find the boring-looking ones are always the more interesting ones too ๐Ÿ˜„ I dunno why but the idea of them sneaking up on sleeping seals despite their slowness is so funny!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That…was an amazing read. We caught what Shark Week we could. Apparently my commercial free Hulu subscription doesn’t include Shark Week (WTH?), but we saw a few. There was one about orcas hunting great whites, and my jaw was on the floor. You think great white sharks are the biggest, baddest dudes in the sea until you see a killer shark rip one apart and eat its liver. We humans are seriously lucky orcas have no interest in eating us, otherwise we’d be screwed o.O

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha Seriously! ๐Ÿ˜› I saw that one too and was blown away by that whole liver thing.
      And thank you so much! โค I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I think Greenland Sharks are just so interesting. There's so many cool and crazy facts about them. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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