Are you wondering whether sharks can go to the Arctic region? Let’s explore the world of Arctic waters and the possibility of these sea predators entering this icy territory.
Arctic Ocean: A land of ice and coldness
The Arctic Ocean, the smallest and shallowest ocean on Earth, covers an area of approximately 14 million square kilometers, surrounded by Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia, and the United States. It is known for its vast ice cover and low salinity, which make it different from the other oceans of the world.
During winter, the Arctic Ocean transforms into a frozen landscape, and only a few areas remain ice-free throughout the year due to the counterclockwise oceanic circulation and atmospheric winds. This harsh and inhospitable environment is the home of several marine organisms, including whales, salmon, and polar bears.
Aquatic fauna of the Arctic Ocean
Despite the extreme conditions, the Arctic Ocean sustains a rich variety of marine life. The cold waters and nutrient-rich environment support the growth of phytoplankton, primary producers that form the base of the food web.
The fauna of the Arctic Ocean includes a diverse array of invertebrates, such as clams, snails, and crabs, as well as fish, such as Arctic cod, Arctic char, and Greenland shark, which is commonly confused with the Great White Shark.
Sharks in the Arctic? Possibility or myth?
Now, let’s come back to the initial question, can sharks go to the Arctic? In general, it is challenging for sharks to live in the icy waters of the Arctic, as they prefer warm temperate regions with higher salinity levels.
However, sharks are among the most adaptable creatures on the planet, and some species like the Greenland shark, have evolved specific physiological mechanisms to survive in the extreme conditions of the Arctic. They have a slow metabolic rate and a high concentration of urea in their tissues, which functions as an antifreeze agent and protects them from freezing.
In addition to the Greenland shark, other species commonly found in the Arctic include the Sleeper Shark, the Spiny Dogfish, and the Bering Shark. These sharks are smaller in size and less aggressive than their tropic counterparts; however, they still hold an important position in the Arctic’s marine ecosystem.
The impact of climate change on the Arctic
Climate change is one of the significant threats the Arctic is facing. The region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, causing the ice cover to melt, and the ocean to acidify. This environmental shift is already affecting the Arctic marine life, including sharks.
As the temperature rises, the Arctic’s marine environment is becoming more hospitable to species that were once considered too far north. The migration of these new species may cause competition for food and resources and impact the Arctic’s delicate food chain. It is still too early to predict the exact consequences of climate change on the Arctic’s sharks, but scientists are already monitoring their behavior.
So, are sharks present in Arctic waters? The answer is yes, and it is not a myth. Although they face challenges to survive in this harsh environment, some shark species have adapted to the extreme conditions of the Arctic.
However, this region is delicate and heavily affected by climate change, which poses a threat not only to the sharks but also to other marine organisms and the food chain they are part of. It is essential to preserve and protect the Arctic marine ecosystem to ensure the survival of its species and their natural habitats.