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Are There Sharks in the Arctic?

There are sharks in the Arctic. And they are awesome.

salmon shark
© Ron Watkins

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 on seafloor
©  Doug Costa, NOAA/SBNMS

Like their namesake suggests, the spiny dogfish has mildly venomous 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 from Okeanos Explorer
© NOAA

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

illustration of porbeagle shark
© F.E. Clarke

The porbeagle 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 white shark.

Salmon Shark

salmon shark swimming
© Ron Watkins

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 swimming
© Wikimedia Commons

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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