Wildlife Fact Sheets

Greenland Shark

Greenland Shark

Greenland Shark

Somniosus microcephalus

  • Life Span
    I can live to up to 400 years!
  • Habitat
    I move to warm, inshore waters in the winter and deep, cool waters in the summer.
  • Range
    You can find me in the northern Atlantic and Arctic Ocean.
  • Preferred Food
    I munch on a wide variety of species, including seabirds, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, seals and more.


I’m big, I’m old, I’m slow and I’m proud of it. I mature late and grow very slowly, which is just fine with me. I’m even known as a “sleeper shark” because I move so slowly, especially in comparison to other sharks. Although don’t get too comfortable–I feed on surprisingly speedy prey, including fish, seals, squid and seabirds.

Others should be careful about eating me, though. My meat is toxic when fresh, and has been shown to cause a drunk-like state in humans and dogs (obviously, someone found out about that the hard way). I used to be fished heavily for my liver oil, and although that ended in the 1960s, I am still sometimes caught as bycatch.

Did You Know?

I have a really wide-ranging diet. Scientists have even found bits of horses and reindeer in stomachs of large Greenland sharks!

Status and Conservation

We Greenland sharks just broke a record: Scientists recently discovered a 400-year-old female Greenland shark, who set a new record for the oldest living vertebrate! In fact, the only animal discovered who is older is an Icelandic clam named Ming, who lived to 507 years old. The oldest living human only lived to 122, so you people have some serious work to do to catch up.   

In fact, I come from a family of record holders! I’m part of the dogfish family, which holds shark titles including the smallest species (the dwarf lanternshark is smaller than a human hand!), longest pregnancies and most abundant worldwide.

Fast Facts


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