Apr 21, 2017 01:32 PM EDT
An international team of scientists is set to go to Arctic to investigate the Greenland shark longevity mystery. The shark is known to be the longest living vertebrate animal on the planet Earth.
One of the members is Dr. Holy Shiels, a physiologist and senior lecturer in the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester. She will be the only British scientist in the team to study Greenland shark, which is believed to be the vertebrate animals and mammals with the longest living. The shark is reported to have lived for more than 200 years, and possibly close to or more than 400 years.
The shark is both hunter and a scavenger, that feed on seals and other animals including polar bears and whales. It is also known as one of the largest sharks, reaching to five and a half meters (18 feet), very close to the size of a great white. The research team is commissioned by the Greenland government and will conduct the research on board the multi-purpose research vessel Sanna, operated by the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources.
A Greenland shark is estimated to be able to live for 400 years according to Science Magazine. Professor Shiels expects to gather sufficient data of Greenland shark, a top predator in the Arctic sea. She wanted to find a clue of how Greenland shark is able to survive in the deep sea of the Arctic sea, by examining how its heart and circulation work in its normal habitat, as she specializes in the cardiovascular function.
“Greenland sharks are classified as data deficient,” Shiels said. “This means that we don’t know enough to put measures in place to protect them from over-fishing, pollution or climate change."
The team will depart to Greenland on April 25, 2017, under Professor John Fleng Steffensen, from the University of Copenhagen as the cruise leader. Watch one of the footage of a rare encounter with Greenland shark from the Arctic underwater cinematographer Adam Ravetch below: