Did you know that 'the world’s most mysterious shark' can be found in British waters?

Greenland sharks are the second largest species of carnivorous shark after the great white.

While they can be found in deep waters around the UK, humans rarely encounter them and we know little about their life cycle, however, there have been confirmed UK sightings.

Sometimes referred to as the world’s most mysterious shark, footage of Greenland sharks swimming in their natural environment was not captured until 2003. 

In 2016 a breakthrough was made when researchers at the University of Copenhagen found a way of accurately calculating the lifespan of a Greenland shark.

The researchers used a radiocarbon dating technique to examine proteins which were found in the lens of the eyes of twenty-eight Greenland sharks and calculated that the largest shark was between 272 and 512 years old, with its most likely age being 390. 

This makes Greenland sharks easily the longest-living vertebrate in the world and means they may have to be around 156 years old before they are capable of reproducing.

Greenland shark washes up on a beach in Cornwall in 2022 after it died of meningitis

A 100-year-old, 13-foot-long female was found stranded near Cornwall’s Newlyn Harbour. She was released back into the sea but was later found dead, sparking its autopsy by the Cornwall Marine Pathology Team.

Rob Deaville, project lead said: “This unfortunate and extraordinary stranding has allowed us to get an insight into the life and death of a species we know little about.

“Discovering that this shark had meningitis is likely a world first, but the significance of this in terms of any wider stressors is unknown.

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“Ultimately, like most marine life, deep-sea species such as Greenland sharks may also be impacted by human pressures on the ocean but there is not enough evidence at this stage to make any connections.’

“Huge thanks are owed to the volunteers of Cornwall Wildlife Trust Marine Strandings Network and all those who spotted and brought the body to shore.

“This was an exceptional collaborative effort by all involved and was a unique opportunity to learn more about the life of this cryptic and endangered deep-water shark.”