Abstract: The elusive Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus) is an understudied and putatively important species in the Arctic. They inhabits large parts of the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean including Greenland fjords and offshore waters from surface water to depths of more than 2000 meters. Recent studies suggest that the Greenland shark is among the longest living animals in the world, is highly migratory and an active top predator in the arctic ecosystem. Through a series of integrated studies conducted on sharks sampled in Arctic waters, the Old And Cold Project is aiming at exploring the growth pattern and maximum age of Greenland shark, quantify their role and overall importance as a top predator, and investigate the migration pattern throughout their distributional area and several physiological questions. The project aim at integrating several state-of-the-art techniques related to the age determination, migration and comparative physiology in order to accomplish the specified objectives.
Recent commercial interest in Greenland has made advances in biological knowledge and conservation strategies even more urgent, as a population of long-lived sharks must be considered extremely vulnerable to exploitation.
Biography: Dr. John Fleng Steffensen is a marine biologist /fish physiologist working on the physiology of respiration and circulation in fishes, in particular metabolism, temperature acclimation and response s to environmental oxygen changes. He received his PhD in Zoophysiology at Århus University, Denmark (1984) working with Professor Kjell Johnansen, and then continued on a NATO post-doctoral fellowship with Professor Dave Randal. Returning to Denmark, John worked briefly for the Environmental Ministry and then took a faculty position at University of Copenhagen where he has been professor since 2009.
Throughout his career, Dr. Steffensen has pursued his research interests around the globe, on land and sea, in temperate, tropical and Polar Regions, with the diversity of his work matching the diversity of the species he studies. Many of his expeditions are to remote destinations, allowing himto investigate unusual organisms in unusual and extreme habitats. He is also known for developing numerous laboratory instruments for fish physiology. In addition to teaching at his home university, John contributes to international lab and field courses in Scandinavia, Greenland and the USA.