In 1620, the Mayflower set off from Plymouth, carrying hopeful pilgrims to the New World. As it sailed over the Atlantic, it passed over deep, cold waters, where baby Greenland sharks were starting out their lives. Those youngsters slowly grew into giants. And if a new study is right, some of them are still alive today.
The Greenland shark is similar in size to a great white but the points on its body are rounded, giving it a much less fearsome countenance. It’s sluggish too, cruising at a typical speed of 0.7 miles per hour—a pace that has earned it the nickname of “sleeper shark”. Its skin looks like a charcoal etching, and its eyes usually have parasitic crustaceans hanging from them. Its stomach can contain the scavenged remains of everything from fish to moose to polar bears, but no one has ever seen one hunt. Indeed, it’s an enigmatic and rarely seen animal, which prefers to stick to the almost sub-zero waters of the deep North Atlantic.