Polar Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 37–46

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

  • Julius Nielsen
  • Rasmus B. Hedeholm
  • Malene Simon
  • John F. Steffensen
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00300-013-1408-3

Cite this article as:
Nielsen, J., Hedeholm, R.B., Simon, M. et al. Polar Biol (2014) 37: 37. doi:10.1007/s00300-013-1408-3

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Greenland shark Feeding ecology Distribution Arctic Body metrics 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julius Nielsen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Rasmus B. Hedeholm
    • 2
  • Malene Simon
    • 3
  • John F. Steffensen
    • 4
  1. 1.DTU Aqua—National Institute of Aquatic ResourcesTechnical University of DenmarkCharlottenlundDenmark
  2. 2.Greenland Institute of Natural ResourcesNuukGreenland
  3. 3.Greenland Climate Research CentreGreenland Institute of Natural ResourcesNuukGreenland
  4. 4.Marine Biological SectionUniversity of CopenhagenHelsingørDenmark