Greenland sharks, the longest-living vertebrates on the planet, swim for centuries. Rare photos reveal these deep-sea giants.


Summary List Placement

While time may feel like it’s standing still for many of us in 2020, this pandemic year is but a blink of an eye for the world’s longest-living vertebrates. 

Greenland sharks, which are found in north Atlantic and Arctic waters, can live for centuries. Some of the oldest known members of the species are estimated to be close to 400 years old — which means they were swimming while the Pilgrims crossed the ocean on the Mayflower.

The sharks are difficult to study because they prefer the deepest parts of the ocean, at depths nearly 2 miles below the surface. They’re uncommon relative to other shark species like great whites.

“These quiet giants spend hundreds of years below the ocean, slowly roaming the depths in near- to below-freezing waters, rarely seen by the human eye,” Meaghan Swintek, a biologist at California State University, Fullerton who co-authored a recent study on Greenland sharks, said in a press release. 

That study, published last month, determined via genetic analysis that there are two geographically separate populations of Greenland sharks: One group swims near Canada’s Baffin Basin, above the Arctic Circle, while the other occupies waters of the north Atlantic Ocean between Nova Scotia and Svalbard island, near Norway.

The ‘longest-living vertebrate known to science’

The more scientists study Greenland sharks, the more they realize these reclusive predators have mind-bogglingly long lifespans compared to other vertebrates (the term for creatures with backbones).

A satellite tag from from this female, which we caught earlier this year in #Greenland, has just reported her position. She is now ~500 km from capture location and she is not alone…. another shark tagged on same expedition is almost at the same location. This is the first piece of evidence on #Greenlandshark group migration. Good job GS304 and GS309 👊🏻🦈👊🏻🦈 #greenlandsharkproject #tagandrelease #oldandcold #extremefishing #science #sharkscience #psat #wildlifecomputers #arctic #ocean #fishing #shark #marinebiology #marinescience #conservation

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A post shared by Julius 🇬🇱🇩🇰 (@juniel85) on Sep 7, 2017 at 12:44am PDT on
Sep 7, 2017 at 12:44am PDT

According to a 2016 study, Greenland sharks don’t reach sexual maturity until at least 134 years old. 

“They have to wait more than 100 …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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