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Are There Sharks in the Arctic?

The answer is yes. And they are awesome.

Porbeagle shark, Canada
© Doug Perrine/WWF

This year, we want to simmer down that summer heat by introducing you to some of the coolest sharks around during #ArcticAugust. These are all sharks that live in the Arctic, as defined in U.S. law, which includes the Bering Sea.

Spiny Dogfish Shark

spiny-dogfish_Monterey Bay Aquarium
© Monterey Bay Aquarium
Like their namesake suggests, the Spiny Dogfish Shark has mildly poisonous spines in front of both dorsal fins. Although some are solitary, others developed the habit of hunting in a pack—similarly to dogs—throughout the Bering Sea.

Pacific Sleeper Shark

Pacific Sleeper Shark_Conservation International: University of Hawaii
© International University of Hawaii
The Pacific Sleeper Shark can be found in waters across the planet, though they have a preference for the Bering Sea’s floor. They are slow moving, but elegant swimmers that can easily sneak up and catch prey, using an interesting cutting and suction feeding process.

Porbeagle Shark

Porbeagle shark, Canada
© Doug Perrine/WWF
The Porbeagle Shark can regulate their internal body temperature quickly, enabling them to adapt to a wide range of climates—particularly the icy waters of the North Atlantic. Their pointed snout and gray and white coloration make them similar in appearance to the Great White Shark.

Salmon Shark

Salmon_Sharks_Andy Murch
© Andy Murch
Salmon sharks are a long-lived, slow-growing species with a low reproductive rate, causing them to be susceptible to over-exploitation. Although they are known to feast on the plethora of salmon in Alaska, Salmon Sharks will much on whatever fish may come their way.

Greenland Shark

Greenland shark, Northwest Territories, Canada
© Paul Nicklen/WWF
Since the Greenland Shark must hunt for their next meal beneath the thick ice in North Atlantic and Arctic waters, their searches are often conducted in practically, complete darkness. Many of these massive creatures, which can have a lifespan of up to 400 years, are used to this lifestyle, however, with parasites like copepods latching onto their eyes, causing blindness.

 

Besides these sharks, there’s an abundance of other wildlife that thrive in the cold waters of the Arctic. So let’s celebrate Arctic August by learning more about this beautiful ecosystem and the creatures that call it home.

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