20 Fun Facts About Greenland Sharks

Photo Greenland shark

Dive into the depths of the ocean with us as we uncover the mysteries of Greenland sharks! These remarkable creatures, also known as polar sharks, call the northernmost regions of the world home, from Greenland to the waters off the coast of Novaya Zemlya. We’ve compiled 20 fun and fascinating facts that will give you a whole new perspective on these extraordinary creatures.

20 Amazing Facts About Greenland Sharks

Let’s embark on an exciting journey through the mysterious waters where sharks reign supreme.


1. The Greenland shark is a proud member of the Somniosidae family. That’s why you often hear the term «Polar» added to its name, and in some circles, it goes by the moniker Lesser Headed Polar Shark.

2. This shark is no small fry, usually spanning from 2.5 to 4.8 metres. Pushing its limits, it can tip the scales at a whopping tonne and stretch up to 7 metres.

3. Sporting a cylindrical body with an elongated head and a snub-nosed snout, the Greenland shark stands out. Despite its size, it rocks surprisingly petite gill slits.

4. When it comes to wardrobe choices, the Greenland shark showcases hues from pale grey to dark brown. To spice things up, some individuals flaunt white spots or dark stripes on their back.

5. The Greenland shark is a true Methuselah in the shark world, boasting exceptional longevity. It not only lives for an extended period but continues growing throughout its entire life.

6. Want to guess its age by size? A three-meter shark could be around 250 years old, while a five-meter giant might have gracefully aged to 500 years! It’s like the Greenland shark adds an average of 1 centimetre per year to its life’s story.


7. As one of the northernmost sharks globally, the Greenland shark proudly roams the waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. Thriving in chilly temperatures ranging from +0.6 to +12 degrees Celsius, it’s a true cold-water enthusiast.

8. The Greenland shark’s territory extends along the coasts of Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and the icy expanses around Svalbard Island.


9. Greenland sharks prefer the coastal regions within the continental shelf zone. They’re versatile navigators, venturing near river mouths and skillfully hunting in the dynamic surf zone.

10. During the summer, these sharks typically reside at depths ranging from 100 to 500 meters, while in the winter, they ascend towards the surface. Remarkably, some intrepid Greenland sharks have been documented at staggering depths of 2200 meters.

11. Renowned for their unhurried pace, the Greenland shark holds the title for the slowest among all sharks, with a maximum speed of merely 2.7 kilometers per hour. Even a casual stroll could easily outpace these leisurely swimmers!

Eating habits

12. Greenland’s sharks are quite the opportunistic eaters, with a diet comprising fish, rays, and small sharks. On occasion, they even venture into hunting seals.

13. Interestingly, there have been documented cases of these sharks attacking polar bears and reindeer.

14. Frequently, these polar sharks are seen trailing fishing vessels, likely lured by the scent of carrion.

Intelligence and Social Behavior

15. Greenland’s sharks are known to form small groups, with populations sometimes consisting of up to 10 individuals. During the summer, they might even come together in larger packs.


16. Believe it or not, Greenland sharks take their sweet time growing up. They hit their ‘adulthood’ at a whopping 150 years! And get this, pregnancy for them lasts a staggering 18 years – it’s like a never-ending family planning journey. These sharks, well, they’re oviparous, meaning they lay eggs. Picture this: a mama shark can have up to 10 little sharks in a litter, each measuring a cute 90 centimetres. That’s one patient mama, don’t you think?


17. Good news on the Greenland shark front – no immediate threat to their squad. Biologists think their crew is doing well, estimating a solid population. Still, these sharks get the «vulnerable» tag from the scientists. So, they’re like the cool kids in the ocean, but with a bit of concern thrown in.

Danger To Humans

18. Good news for beachgoers – Greenland sharks aren’t your nightmare material. Sure, they might pull some pranks on ships and divers, but they’re harmless to us. The real plot twist? Humans are the troublemakers here.

19. Now, about their cuisine game – don’t bother. Their meat is a no-go due to a heavy urea load, but back in the day, folks were all about that fatty liver. Greenland’s fishermen used to reel in a whopping 50,000 of these fellas every year.

Are There Any Aquariums with Greenland Sharks?

20. Navigating the chilly polar waters, Greenland sharks are the cool kids of the sea. Catching them in their natural habitat is a summer treat, especially when they roll up to the surf zone. However, don’t count on spotting them in oceanariums. Recreating their natural digs is like trying to crack a secret code – mission impossible!

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Greenland Shark

Greenland sharks, rulers of the icy waters, strut their stuff with an average size ranging from 244 to 427 cm (8-14 feet). The leading ladies of this underwater realm, the females, proudly claim the title of the larger sex. While their everyday stature is impressive, these sharks can stretch their bodies to a maximum length of about 640 cm (21 feet), with whispers of some exceptional individuals reaching up to 730 cm (24 feet). The chilly climate, akin to a slow-motion ballet, curates a growth pace that's both cool and calculated.
See also  20 Fun Facts About Blacktip Reef Sharks
Greenland sharks, the timekeepers of the ocean, are believed to have a lifespan that stretches beyond the imagination. Scientists, wielding the magic of estimation, propose a humble starting point of 250 years for these enigmatic creatures. However, the tales spun by the depths suggest that some of these oceanic elders might boast a remarkable legacy, reaching a venerable age of over 500 years.
The scientific name for the Greenland shark is Somniosus microcephalus.
These Greenland sharks are a bit mysterious when it comes to parenting. They're ovoviviparous, meaning their eggs develop inside their bodies until they hatch, and they usually have around 10 little ones at a time. Now, here's where it gets interesting – scientists aren't entirely sure about the parenting details. We're in the dark about how much care the young ones get and for how long. The best guess? Like other shark species, these Greenland sharks might be pretty independent right from the get-go!
Imagine swimming through centuries of life! Greenland sharks are like the Methuselahs of the ocean, with scientists guessing they can live up to a whopping 500 years. Here's the twist – these sharks don't start their family until they hit the ripe age of 150. That's like waiting for a lifetime before diving into parenthood. This late start makes them super vulnerable to overfishing, putting their populations at risk. Let's hope we can give these ancient ocean dwellers the respect and protection they deserve!
Published byRuslana
The story of my interest in sharks.

I am actually afraid of sharks, but at the same time I am attracted to them.

When I was about 10 years old, my mother and I saw the film «Jaws» and I think it really scared me.

I became curious and wanted to know more about their lives. I think I wouldn't be afraid of sharks. Now I'm still scared, but I know a lot more, I'm interested in sharks and I like the way they look.

So I started this blog and will share what I have learnt about them. I would love it if you could share your shark encounter story with me.
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  1. Peter Asagba

    My first knowledge about sharks was back in my childhood in 1975 while watching TV in a neighbour’s house. I remember these divers in cages surrounded by scores of sharks and in another scene there was another diver in the water without the benefit of a cage and one of the sharks approached him and bit him in the leg and he suddenly wasn’t moving. I thought the shark had killed him. Turned out the diver wasn’t a diver at all but a dummy, though I knew that years later. I also got to see dolphins on TV but I couldn’t tell the difference between sharks and dolphins so when I saw dolphins, I immediately assumed they were the same thing. Eventually I got to know more about sharks as the years went on and today can easily recognize a specie of shark. I am an author and illustrator but only have one children’s book published at the moment. I am hoping to one day write and illustrate a a simple facts book for kids about a selected number of shark species.

    1. Ruslana

      A million thanks for sharing your story. It’s very beautiful! Please post a link to your published book in the comments. I would like to publish this link so that readers of my blog can read it. 📚