Mysterious Arctic shark got lost and ended up in the Caribbean: scientists

Photo of a Greenland shark taken at the edge of a raft in Admiralty Inlet, Nunavut, 2007.
Hemming 1952 / Wikimedia Commons

  • A shark has been found in the Caribbean, thousands of miles away from its usual Arctic habitat.
  • The Greenland shark, which is between 250 and 500 years old, has surprised researchers in Belize.
  • “It looked like something that existed in prehistoric times,” the biologist said.

Biologists were astonished when they found a mysterious shark living in cold waters thousands of miles away from its natural habitat. According to a recent marine study. The Greenland shark – the longest-living vertebrate on Earth – has been discovered in the tropical Caribbean Sea.

Researchers were tagging and temporarily catching tiger sharks off the coast of Belize when they encountered the mysterious shark, a recent study reported. published In the journal Science Marine Biology.

After setting a line on the protected Glover Island Reef in Belize while observing and researching tiger sharks, biologists returned to find that their line had moved several miles from the reef into waters up to 2,000 feet deep.

When they retrieved their scientific catch, they were amazed to find an ancient Greenland shark. “It looked very ancient,” commented one of the researchers, Hector Daniel Martinez, emphasizing its deep-sea habitat.

Initially, scientists suspected it might be a sixgill shark, a dominant deep-sea predator, but upon photographing the rarely seen animal, they confirmed its identity as “most likely” a Greenland shark.

“We suddenly saw a very slow, sluggish creature under the surface of the water,” Devanshi Kasana, a biologist and Ph.D. candidate in the Predator Ecology and Conservation Laboratory at Florida International University, Mashable reported. “It looked like something that existed in prehistoric times.”

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Greenland sharks are the longest-living vertebrates on Earth, with an astonishing lifespan ranging from 250 to 500 years. According to the National Ocean Service.

Sharks live thousands of feet underwater in complete darkness, are rarely seen or photographed, and few details are known about their incredibly long lives. In the depths of the water they grow, move and age slowly. Their slow, energy-conserving lifestyle is a fundamental adaptation to the nutrient-scarce deep sea.

The discovery of a Greenland shark near a reef off Belize was unexpected but plausible. These mysterious sharks thrive in the deep Arctic seas and can inhabit other deep-ocean regions, including the Caribbean.

The nearby reef slope reaches depths of up to 9,500 feet, providing a cool, dark environment suitable for Greenland sharks.

This discovery raises questions about whether this particular Greenland shark migrated to the Caribbean from Arctic waters or whether it spent most of its life deep in the tropical waters of the region.

The question remains unanswered, but there is a strong possibility that more of these mysterious creatures roam the dark depths of the Caribbean, hidden from our eyes. “I doubt it’s the only one,” Damian Chapman, director of shark and ray conservation research at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, told Mashable.

“They have to wait more than 100 years to have sex.”

The deep sea remains largely unexplored, and the discovery of this Arctic shark is a reminder that the ocean and its biosphere are little known.

Study 2020 It has been determined through genetic analysis that there are two geographically separated populations of Greenland sharks: one group swims near Baffin Basin in Canada, above the Arctic Circle, while the other occupies the North Atlantic waters between Nova Scotia and Svalbard, near Norway.

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Greenland sharks are primarily scavengers, eating everything (dead or alive), including… Fish, seals, polar bears and whales.

Some can grow up to 24 feet long and weigh up to 2,645 pounds (1,200 kg), although they only grow up to 0.4 inch (1 cm) per year.

According to a 2016 studyGreenland sharks do not reach sexual maturity until they are at least 134 years old.

“They have to wait more than 100 years to have sex, and I’m sure they’re not happy about it,” says Julius Nielsen, one of the authors of this study. He told New Scientist magazine In 2016.

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