Distribution and feeding ecology of the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus) in Greenland waters

Julius Nielsen, Rasmus Berg Hedeholm, Malene Juul Simon, John Fleng Steffensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Greenland sharks are widely distributed and most likely a highly abundant predator in arctic waters. Greenland sharks have previously been considered scavengers, but recent studies suggest that Greenland sharks also predate on live prey. In this study, distribution and feeding ecology in Greenland waters were investigated. Based on data from 25 years of surveys, Greenland sharks were usually caught at 400–700 m but were found at all depths between 100 and 1,200 m. Based on examination of stomachs from 30 Greenland sharks (total length of 258–460 cm), the most important prey items were Atlantic cod (65.6 % IRI), harp seal (9.9 % IRI), skates (5.2 % IRI) and wolffish (4.4 % IRI), but large geographical variations were observed. Prey composition and qualitative observations support the hypothesis of active predation. Consistent with other studies, the results of this work support the notion that the Greenland shark is an apex predator with the potential to influence trophic dynamics in the Arctic.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolar Biology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)37-46
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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