Scientist plans to tag Greenland sharks

Ocean Tracking Network researchers prepare to tag a Greenland shark in Cumberland Sound in 2010. (Iva Peklova/University of Windsor)Deep water Arctic species rarely studied, says researcher

A team of scientists is travelling up Baffin Bay, located between Arctic Canada and Greenland, this week hoping to learn more about Greenland sharks, one of the Arctic’s more mysterious species.

Nigel Hussey, with Canada’s University of Windsor, said the tags will help track the species he calls an “enigma.” Greenland sharks tend to stay in very cold, very deep water so they’re not harvested, and rarely studied.

But Hussey said more and more are being caught as bycatch, tangled in the nets of the growing commercial turbot fishery in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut.

“There’s concern that up until the present, the Arctic is a relatively pristine system, and if suddenly we’ve got these developing fisheries throughout the Arctic area, they could really start to impact the Greenland shark population,” he said.

Hussey will travel on board the Government of Nunavut’s research vessel Nuliajuk north from Clyde River to Scott Inlet where he plans to catch and tag about 15 or so sharks.

Hussey wants to track the animals by satellite over several years, to learn more about their behaviours and their numbers. He said sharks have already been tagged in Cumberland Sound, located in Baffin Island’s southeast, and near the Nunavut community of Resolute.

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