Greenland sharks are amazing creatures. They can live to be 400-years-old and swim at the incredibly slow pace of 1.6 kilometers per hour (1 mile per hour), or slower if they’re feeling lazy, despite being apex predators.
They lie in wait for food, using a sucking action to feed on unlucky prey that pass near their mouths. Despite this, they have been found to feast on live seals. Scientists think they sneak up on these seals whilst they sleep in the water (seals do this to avoid polar bears).
All in all, they’re pretty fascinating creatures. And it seems the Internet is falling in love with these amazing sharks, after a thread of cool facts about them went viral on Twitter. They weren’t all accurate, however, and we have a few corrections below, but it’s good that these wonderful sharks are getting the attention they deserve.
Oh, and they eat polar bears.
First up, they aren’t actually “pee sharks”. Like other sharks, Greenland sharks have high levels of urea in their tissue, which increases their buoyancy. It’s not “pee” and they’re definitely not “pee sharks”.
Think there could be no more cool facts about Greenland sharks? You’re way off, these things are insane.
According to The Verge, it’s also unclear whether the parasites in the sharks’ eyes actually glow and attract prey, though it’s true that most of the sharks do have parasites dangling from their eyes.
Around 400-500 years, but still. That’s a long time.
They normally eat fish, but it’s true they have occasionally been found to eat polar bears. The sharks haven’t been observed doing this – they are extremely elusive creatures – but polar bear parts have been found in their stomachs, as well as the jaw of a bear cub. Experts suspect that the polar bear was dead before the Greenland shark ate it, though.
The Twitter thread, which has gone viral over the last week, also told people that eating the flesh of the Greenland shark can get you drunk.
Whilst “drunk” isn’t exactly the right term for it, it’s true that if you ate an undried Greenland shark, you would appear drunk. The sharks contain trimethylamine oxide, which produces an intoxicating effect.
However, other effects of ingesting trimethylamine oxide include “stiff movements, hyper-salivation, vomiting, explosive diarrhea, conjunctivitis, muscular twitching, respiratory distress, convulsions, and – in severe cases – death,” so it’s hardly recommended as a way of getting tanked.
People have been sharing their own facts about the Greenland shark below the full thread, which we’d recommend checking out (and fact-checking), as well as following the thread’s creator.
In the meantime, here’s some bonus footage of the elusive sharks, captured by a team from the University of Manchester.