Shark Family Tree

Somniosidae: Sleeper sharks

Somniosidae is the only shark family that occupies all the world’s oceans including the poles. Commonly known as “sleeper sharks” for their lethargic behaviors,  these deep-water species deftly ambush faster-moving prey (seals. caribou, dogs, ducks, etc…) with their stealthy, sluggish movements. Sleeper sharks mostly live near the ocean floor on continental and insular slopes; however, some are known to occur on the surface (even inshore) in high northern latitudes where the water is colder.  Even though their sizes range from small to very large, such as the Greenland Shark, they all have flabby, torpedo-shaped bodies with relatively small fins, except for a large, paddle-like caudal fin.

Profile Species: Greenland Shark (Somniosus microcephalus)
Somniosus microcephalus / Greenland shark

Somniosus microcephalus / Greenland shark

Distribution:  North Atlantic and Arctic and Gulf of Mexico on continental and insular shelves as deep as around 2600 meters.
Behaviour: Indicatively sluggish and slow moving but experienced predator.
Biology: Viviparous. Seven to ten pups per litter. Might live to be more than 150 years old.
Diet: Large, active prey like seabirds, seals, fish, etc…  even deer, ducks, dogs, and yes, people!

*Brought to you by Sharks of the World, 2014.