Tech & Science

Video: Researcher Shocked by Discovery of Rare Greenland Shark, in Far North

Somniosus_microcephalus_okeanos
A Greenland shark. NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program

Very little is known about Greenland sharks, enormous beasts that can grow up to 21 feet long and which are known for their poor vision and slow perambulation through the ocean. Their meat contains a toxic chemical called TMAO, so there isn't a commercial market for the shark — and which, in turn, means their range isn’t well-known.

On a trek to Russia's Franz Josef Land, a group of uninhabited islands far to the northeast of Norway, National Geographic mechanical engineer Alan Turchik was shocked when an underwater camera he set up caught a glimpse of one of these sharks swimming past. No Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus) had previously been reported in the area.

The finding expands the known range of the animals, which have been sighted off Norway, Greenland, eastern Canada and the U.S. Northeast, and as far south as South Carolina.

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