How long do Greenland Sharks Live

The only shark with the ability to endure Arctic temperatures year-round and the only true sub-Arctic shark who prefers to live in cold waters, we are talking here about none other than the Greenland sharks. Greenland sharks are famous for more than just this; their lifespans have also been extensively studied. It is believed that they are the longest-living vertebrates, but how true it is, we need to look at how long do Greenland sharks live.

Sharks have been an integral part of an ecosystem, and they have been here for more than thousands of years, even older than the trees. With over 500 species discovered so far, each one has distinctive features, and all play a part in keeping the blue oceans healthy. One of them is the Greenland shark which, unlike other sharks, inhabits the North Atlantic waters.

Greenland sharks are known to live over 400 years, and when you look at the figures, it is twice as long as the giant tortoise, the world’s oldest land mammal. 

Well, this blog is going to look into this and will figure out how long do Greenland sharks live. To begin with, let’s give you a brief overview of this amazing shark species.

Everything you need to know about Greenland sharks

Though Greenland sharks are able to thrive in an array of environmental conditions, they prefer the cold waters, and therefore, you will mainly see them in the Arctic oceans or the North Atlantic. It can be found in depths ranging from 0 to around 4000 feet, typically spotted near the surface during the winter and retreating to depths during the summer.

The Greenland shark has been called by many different names, including the sleeper shark, gray shark, and ground shark.

Belonging to a family of large species, it can grow to a size of 10 to 15 feet; however, the longest it can reach is reported to be 24 feet. However, the dorsal fins and eyes are relatively small in spite of their considerable body size. Similarly, this species has very tiny gill openings for its enormous size.

Greenland sharks have many distinctive features, such as the fact that their meat is poisonous when fresh; however, you can consume it after some time. Trimethylamine oxide (TMAO) is a toxic element that is present at high levels in the flesh of Greenland sharks, but did you know this element increases their buoyancy?

Iceland is famous for providing you with delicate food made from Greenland shark’s flesh. Check out the top restaurants serving sharks.

Since the Greenland sharks live in cold waters, human interaction is almost impossible, and therefore, it possesses no threat, nor has any attack been recorded. But, with such an enormous size, they have the power to attack and tear apart humans; however, it’s highly unlikely to happen.  

A range of marine creatures make up their diet. Being a top predator, they mainly prey on fish and smaller sharks. However, their diet also includes squid and seals.

Even though Greenland sharks are top predators, they are quite slow-moving creatures, so much so that they are considered the sharks with the lowest swimming speed. Due to this, they prefer to hunt sleeping prey.

Having adapted to both scavenging and active hunting, Greenland sharks have become the apex predator in Arctic ecosystems. Throughout these ecosystems, they prey on fish, seals, and other prey, playing an integral part in the complex food chain. Check out why sharks are important to us and how it will affect us if they go extinct.

Despite not posing a threat to humans, they are susceptible to overfishing. The low fecundity, slow growth rate, and late maturation period further contribute to their declining population, resulting in the IUCN’s declaration of vulnerability.

Now you have an in-depth knowledge of the species, but what about their life expectancy? Let’s explore it below.

What is the life expectancy of Greenland sharks?

There has been a long-held suspicion that Greenland sharks live to be over 500 years old. Well, that’s exactly the case. In addition to being the longest-living vertebrate in the world, the Greenland shark does not reach sexual maturity until over a century old. Female species usually do not reproduce until after they reach their 156th year of age.

Even at the low end of the estimations, scientists evaluated that Greenland sharks live for 272 years, making them the longest-living vertebrates.


Greenland sharks are among the largest fish in the world, and they tend to live to be very old, especially in colder waters. It’s difficult to study Greenland sharks because they live in the cold North Atlantic and are hard to find.

Nevertheless, scientists have long believed Greenland sharks live for about 250 years. However, a recent study has shown that their life span is over 500 years! Even 250 is an impressive age number for a shark. Why not check out some shark facts and see how amazing these creatures are.  

About the author

Yumna Ahmad

An experienced content writer, photographer, and avid reader amazed by the sea world and its creatures. I am lettin people become fascinated with the ocean planet through my writings.