Sometimes you hear about a story that you can't forget. Over two years ago I happened to meet a biologist who casually mentioned a colleague studying Greenland sharks, and how they had used the same technology that detectives used to solve a murder and discovered the animals had seemingly supernatural longevity. It took me since then to track the people and details. Read the story at newyorker.com
"Greenland sharks are among nature’s least elegant inventions. Lumpish, with stunted pectoral fins that they use for ponderously slow swimming in cold and dark Arctic waters, they have blunt snouts and gaping mouths that give them an unfortunate, dull-witted appearance. Many live with worm-like parasites that dangle repulsively from their corneas. They belong, appropriately enough, to the family Squalidae, and appear as willing to gorge on fresh halibut as on rotting polar-bear carcasses. Once widely hunted for their liver oil, today they are considered bycatch. For some fishermen, a biologist recently told me, netting a Greenland shark is about as welcome as stepping in dog poop.
And yet the species has an undeniable magnetism. It is among the world’s largest predatory sharks, growing up to eighteen feet in length, but also among its most elusive. Its life history is a black box, one that researchers have spent decades trying in vain to peer inside..."