Tuesday, May 28, 2013

No, Discovery Channel, Greenland Sharks Don't Live in Fresh Water...

I just watched something last night that has me completely confused. 

Okay, starting from the tippy-top…

I watch River Monsters on the Discovery Channel.  I’m addicted to it.  I do find the premise a bit campy, however.  I wish that they could do away with it and just go out and catch awesome, huge fish all over the world and film Jeremy Wade doing it.  I don’t understand why they always have to tie the search for the fish to danger to humans, and try to find past attacks before they can try and catch the thing, because it forces them to come to strange conclusions just to find an excuse to tie certain fish back to their premise. 

The episode on Lake Iliamna and his conclusion that it is white sturgeon that are the source of the reported human disappearances really made me shake my head, and you could tell that Mr. Wade was sort of uncomfortable making the association, but really had to in order to justify it being on “River Monsters.”  If they could just do away with the “monster-as-danger” as being a prerequisite and just focus on “monster as monster” (ie, large, or odd) or “monster as legend”, they’d lose that campy feel and get back to the meat-and-potatoes of the show, which is the chronicles of a well-spoken, multi-lingual, very intelligent biologist traveling the globe in search of strange and rare freshwater fish species, often shrouded in mystery and legend, and perhaps sometimes dangerous to humans. 

The Lake Iliamna monster is, in my opinion, almost certainly a misidentified white sturgeon.  

Ascipenser Transmontanus

As you can see from my post and pictures earlier, they really are monsters (and the one that I caught, at 9 feet long and 400 pounds, is less than half the size of the largest ever recorded!).  So I do not disagree with Mr. Wade’s determination that what people saw on Lake Iliamna was a sturgeon.  The ludicrous part was his trying to make a white sturgeon into something dangerous, which they are not.  They are about as harmful as a puppy dog – no teeth, not aggressive or predatory at all, and more or less just kind of, well, there.  His uncomfortable conclusion (made, in my opinion, in order to justify having this awesome and odd fish on the show so that it satisfied the "dangerous to humans" pre-requisite) was that maybe a sturgeon breeched and knocked over the canoe, and that the men inside the canoe vanished because they drowned.  The problem with this is that there are places on Earth where sturgeon are far more plentiful and around people more often, and we just don’t have that kind of problem with them.  I’ve never heard of such a thing happening.  Besides, why do you need a river monster to explain the disappearances of some men paddling about on a very large and frigid subarctic lake in a bark canoe?  Couldn’t there be much more likely explanations than a sturgeon breech? 

Like, for instance, the fact that it is fucking cold?

So the show and I have a sort of bipolar relationship – I absolutely love watching him trot the globe catching really cool and really nasty freshwater critters.  I love the biology and the angling aspect of it, but I get a little turned off by the “danger” aspect of it quite often; more often than not because it quite obviously is silly and forced. 

But last night, I’m left sort of shaking my head about what the hell just happened.  Jeremy Wade decided that he was going to look into Loch Ness, which is something for which I’ve been waiting on for quite some time.  It started out pretty well – he interviewed locals who had claimed to have seen the beast; he dove into the lake to survey what life he could see; he even fished the lake a bit.  The conclusion that he came to was that the Loch did not have the biomass in it to support a large creature, and that therefore, the creature in question must’ve come in from the sea.  This is a sound conclusion based on his assessment of the loch – one which many scientists agree with. 

The first suggestion was that it was possible that a sturgeon had blundered up the River Ness from the ocean, and that, like Lake Iliamna, that was what people were seeing.  Jeremy canoed down the River Ness to survey the river conditions, and found rapid sections that he determined were too shallow and fast for a sturgeon to successfully get through. 

This was the first time that he went off the rails in this show, but it wouldn’t be even close to the last.  The reason that I say that he went off the rails here is due to the fact that I’ve seen sturgeon in rivers with lots of shallow, fast rapids.  In fact, some of the most successful sturgeon populations we have around these parts are in fast, shallow rivers.  So I reject his assessment that a sturgeon could not make its way into the Loch.  In fact, if there is a population of sturgeon living in the ocean at the mouth of the River Ness, I’d be greatly surprised if they haven’t, on occasion, swam up into the Loch in search of food.  And so, I come to the conclusion, once again, that many monster sightings are actually mis-identified sturgeon.  This is especially true in that sturgeon are not a known denizen of the loch, and so folks wouldn’t be expecting to see them. 

Jeremy Wade, however, rejected this premise. So he continued to look for likely culprits, and found that river and lake monsters were generally associated with Viking lore, and that in many places like Scotland, where Vikings once were, there are river monster legends.  So he went to Iceland to investigate some lake monster sightings there.  While there, he learned about a sub-arctic shark that might have an appearance similar to the sightings that he’d heard about.  So he went fishing for Greenland Sharks in Norway.  When he caught one, he suggested that the Greenland Shark might be the culprit for the Loch Ness sightings. 

This is where I went dudeomgwtf??? 

A quick listing of all the things totally fucked up about this concept:

1.      Greenland Sharks do not have the ability to osmo-regulate, meaning that, like most salt-water fish, they cannot live in fresh water.  Some sharks do, in fact, have this ability.  The most famous and well-known is the bull shark.  Jeremy made this point in the show, while not mentioning that the Greenland Shark does not have this ability, failing at logic forever in the process (a species of shark has this ability, therefore the Greenland Shark, which does not, can live in freshwater???).  Loch Ness is fresh water.  Greenland Sharks would hyper-hydrate in a fresh water lake and die within hours from electrolyte imbalance.  As a quick aside, sturgeon do have this osmo-regulation ability, and move from salt to fresh water commonly.

2.      Greenland sharks are much, much bigger than the local Atlantic sturgeon that would be found in the waters of Scotland.  They are also very slow and lethargic, whereas sturgeon are not.  If, as per Jeremy’s conclusion, a sturgeon could not navigate the rapids of the River Ness, how does he presume that a Greenland Shark could?  Also, add to that the fact that sturgeon are renowned athletes – prized for their speed and fighting ability on hook and line.  Greenland Sharks, however, have a blistering, maximum balls-out speed of less than 2 miles per hour.  So if the rapid is too shallow and too fast for a sturgeon that can swim at speeds 8 times faster than that, and is half the size of a Greenland Shark, how, exactly, do you come the conclusion that a Greenland Shark could navigate the rapid when a sturgeon could not? 

3.      Greenland Sharks live in the ocean depths.  The one that Jeremy caught was in over 2,000 feet of water.  To get into the River Ness, Greenland Sharks would need to come up to the surface – something that they very rarely do.

I’m sort of shaking my head at this episode of what is otherwise a really great show.  I truly don’t understand how the hell you can come to the conclusion that a salt-water shark came up a freshwater river, into a lake, and does so often enough that it’s been seen hundreds of times in the last 100 years. 


  1. While I agree with your logic on all accounts, I think the show concluded that the Greenland shark was responsible for the legend of the Loch Ness monster. AKA, Vikings and sailors of the sort caught or saw the shark and it more or less became legend and embedded itself in history. Then, I believe they are making the VERY vague reference that people are not really seeing anything at all other than trees and depris/seals but due to the legend, their minds are making the connection that they saw the Loch Ness monster.
    I don't think that they were every arguing that a Greenland shark was swimming up rapids and surfacing all over the place in Loch Ness.

  2. I hope you're right. Otherwise the extent to which they went off the rails here was jaw dropping.

  3. Greenland sharks are often found in rivers near me in Quebec, Canada. Though they do average a very low speed (as you have indicated), they have been observe making very tight turns and can accelerate quite suddenly.

    I, however, do agree with the basic premise that people are just not used to seeing anything like a sturgeon and that's what they're seeing.

    1. Greenland sharks have been found in the St. Lawrence river/seaway in brackish to salty waters. Never in true fresh water.

    2. Here is a link to a map of the city near which they found the Greenland Sharks in the “river”. If you zoom out, you can see that what we’re talking about here isn’t exactly a babbling freshwater brook so much as it is a huge, inland fjord at the mouth of the St. Lawrence. You can’t even see across the thing unless it is remarkably clear and sunny.


      Here is a link to some pictures of the St. Lawrence seaway/river. It is a huge body of salty and brackish water, which is very deep in many places. The saline levels in the areas where the Greenland Sharks were found were salty enough to be classified as brackish. Most salt water creatures can live in brackish water. The water here is not fresh, like it is in the River Ness and in Loch Ness. If Greenland Sharks had never been found in the St. Lawrence, I would absolutely, nevertheless, be willing to accept that they live there because it is definitely in their wheelhouse – cold, deep, and salty.


      Here are some pictures of the River Ness. Note the stark differences between the River Ness and the St. Lawrence. For instance, the boats shown in the St. Lawrence link are 500 foot freighters, whereas the boats shown in the Ness link are rowboats. The River Ness is very shallow, very fast, and very fresh. There isn’t even a very large estuary at Ness, so there isn’t a large salty section of it like the Lawrence has. It is 7 miles of absolutely fresh water, attached to a large lake of the same. It is so incomparable to the St. Lawrence that I really think that the St. Lawrence fails miserably as an example of why the sharks could navigate the River Ness.


    3. check http://www.geerg.ca/gshark_1.html. it shows the range of the greenland shark in the river. Also, sturgeons have been known to hit people before. Couldn't you imagine being hit by a 20 foot fish? Definitely, you are gonna fall, especially on the kayak.

  4. But the shark theory does make better TV. Oh well.

  5. It certainly does that. Which, as it were, is why I'm upset with the show.

    That is really my problem, though, since I understand that they need to maintain ratings, and good TV is how you do that.

    I'm just a little worried about the general dumbing down of the logical process, here, and the assumption that people would accept it at face value. I'm even more worried that people may have accepted it at face value, which is why i wrote the post.

  6. When I watched the show, and they stated that there was a river that led from the north seas to the loch, I thought it is probably a greenland shark.

    1. When I saw the river, the part with the rapids, I thought well it can't be a greenland shark it is too big. But then Jeremy stated that when it floods, (I do not know if it is seasonal or Tidal) that the water rises up to 15 feet. so that shallow water would be deep enough at that point to allow a shark to go through.

    2. I was more surprised that Jeremey acted as if he had never heard of the Greenland shark, perhaps this was to add suspense to the show? i don't know.

    3. Now if the river indeed floods 15 feet, then it is deep enough to have this shark swim up in those conditions. The shark does go into the st lawrence river, so we know it will come up from the depths for whatever reason and swim into at least brackish water which it appears to tolerate well. The question is can it tolerate 100% freshwater? Why do you state that it cannot osmo-regulate? Salinity in oceans vary from Depth, temperature, as well as proximity to shorelines. Sharks with wide ranges have to osmo regulate to an extent for these ocean conditions (though only a few can survive in Freshwater). Trimethylamine oxide (TMAO) and urea are found in high level in sharks (high enough levels to kill most vertabrae). It is used to help regulate the salts in the animals body and maintain balance in it's osmotic pressure. Excess salts are removed by the rectal gland, while excess water is filtered by the kidneys and excreted as urine. Great Whites and many other sharks would not survive long in freshwater because their high internal osmotic pressure would cause their kidneys to over work to remove the excess water. The metabolic cost will kill the shark. However, very little is known about the Greenland Shark. But one thing that is known is that it is a slow moving shark (though it does not mean it can't move in quick burst)It is a deep water species as well as a cold water species which is indicative of a slow metabolism. In addition this fish flesh is toxic to eat due to the High levels of urea and TMAO, THis would also indicate that its ability to regulate its osmotic pressure is different than most sharks. Again very little is known about this species, but its physiology is quite different from most sharks in both metabolism and levels of urea and TMAO used to regulate osmotic pressure. I have not found any scientific article that states that this fish cannot tolerate freshwater.

  7. Everything that I see here is an explanation for how the Greenland shark, like all other sharks, manages to live in salt water without dehydrating. Nothing that you posted presents a mechanism for how the Greenland shark could exist in fresh water without hyper-hydrating. The system in their body would have to be reversible for that to be possible, but it isn’t.

    As for the Greenland Sharks osmo-regulating ability, this isn’t really up for debate. They can’t do it. They don’t have the ability. There are a crapload of articles on the internet talking about how they can tolerate freshwater because they were found in the St. Lawrence, but this is entirely misleading – the location where they were found in the St. Lawrence was a marine, saltwater environment – crabs, jellyfish, and barnacles – the works. Being in the St. Lawrence seaway is not, nor should it be, a good example as to why a Greenland Shark could survive in fresh water – the St. Lawrence seaway is not fresh water.

    As for salinity levels in the deep sea being variable, I agree, but the upshot is that there is still salinity. It is never fresh water.

    Additionally, I addressed the “flooded river” aspect in my original article – the Greenland shark is slow and lethargic. This is not an animal that I would expect to see swimming up a turbulent, swollen river 15 feet above its normal water level.

  8. Whilst I do understand your frustration with aspects of that particular episode of 'River Monsters' I feel you have been a little too quick to dismiss the 'Greenland Shark as Loch Ness monster' theory. Greenland sharks DO osmoregulate but in a different way to other sharks. See http://www.geerg.ca/gshark_1.html for details. They also occupy any and all depths of the water column depending on temperature. The article I cite also gives the lie to the idea that they are always very slow. Obviously they are UNLIKELY to be in Loch Ness but it is certainly not impossible.

  9. They osmoregulate differently from some other species of sharks, not all species. There are other well known species that regulate in similar manner to the Greenland shark (Pacific sleepers and I'm pretty sure blues, also). The upshot is that none of the sharks that osmotegulate like the Greenland shark does can survive in fresh water. They don't have the anadramous capability.

    Show me one example of any somnosid sharks in fresh water and I will change my tune. Show me one example of any of the many sharks that regulate the way the Greenland shark does being in fresh water and I will eat my hat. It just doesn't check out

  10. Would it not be possible that a Greenland Shark entered Lochness chasing seals, was seen by someone and then either turned and went back to sea or died in the lake. If they were dying due to not tolerating the freshwater it might be a reason why they would surface.

    1. I suppose that’s possible. I still have a pretty hard time with the idea of a Greenland being able to make it up the River Ness, or choosing to do so. Chasing a seal up the river into the estuary, sure, but all 7 some-odd miles up the river? That is a bit longer than I’d imagine a “hot pursuit” of a seal by an animal as lethargic as a Greenland would end up being.

  11. Very interesting. I'm going to have to study this a bit more. I almost always use the micropur and aqua mira tablets, but I've always wanted to try something that's faster acting (either steripen or a light filter). I'm going to have to look at this some more... either the Frontier Pro or the LifeStraw. For simplicity and reliability, what would you recommend? . I know something about this same information, to know you can click here

    water cooler
    water delivery

  12. "dudeomgwtf"... Classic! I will have to borrow that! Great read

  13. There was a study of tagged Greenland Sharks in the St. Lawrence and the absolute lowest salinity they showed up in was ~26 parts per thousand. So I strongly agree... they're effectively a strictly marine (well, saline) species.


    It really bothers me that Wade connects the sharks to "Loch Ness Sightings" without discussing any purported sightings that look even vaguely like this species. Alright, so almost all of the reports are horrendously vague (IIRC, mostly weird lumps in the water), but it's far more likely to be really mundane phenomena (waves, logs, local animals) than a hyper-exotic visitor.

  14. In my personal opinion loch ness is not home to either a Greenland shark a sturgeon or any other large aquatic animal, my opinion is based on the fact that I've been there. I've camped on both the loch and the river, there's no way any creature out of the norm could swim up the river into the loch without being seen. The sightings go back centuries and I'm pretty sure the locals know a fish when they see one, and wouldn't confuse it with. A monster.

  15. The Greenland Shark can survive in fresh water - it swims up into the great lakes in Canada, and up into Quebec. It has an impressive range, and I'm fully willing to accept that Wade may have found a connection between the Loch Ness Monster and the Greenland Shark.

    1. " it swims up into the great lakes in Canada"

      No, it doesn't. The closest to "fresh" water that they'v ever been found was in the estuarine (ie, salt or brackish water) reaches of the St. Lawrence River. There has never, ever, ever been a Greenland shark found in fresh water. Honestly, this is not up for debate. It has never happened.

    2. I presume Goober is an alias for God, since you obviously believe you are omniscient.

    3. Really. That's interesting. What about me would cause you to believe that I am a God, or God-Like?

      It's the dashing good looks, isn't it?

      My mom always said she thought I was very handsome.

      Or did you have something useful to add to the debate?

    4. ^^Does Anon know how absolutely hilarious their comment is, y'think?

    5. My guess is that to find the humor there anon would need to possess a slightly higher level of self awareness than he currently displays. But you and i can laugh, and that's all that really matters.

  16. Things are ALWAYS up for debate, but on your side of the argument would be, "It seems highly improbable that Greenland Sharks can survive in fresh water, as there is no reputable record of this ever happening." And then other points.

    1. It isn't a matter of maybe finding one one day and proving they can. We already know that they are biologically incapable of surviving in fresh water. This is known. We won't find them in fresh water. Ever. Because they can't do it.

    2. "This is not up for debate" is similar in use, as an argument to "everyone is entitled to their opinion." Both are entirely insufficient as an argument to prove a point.

      You cannot debate facts. The fact is that no Greenland Shark has ever been found in fresh water. This, quite literally, is not up for debate.

      The other fact is that the biological mechanism for dealing with salt in their environment, employed by Greenland Sharks, would make it impossible for them to survive in fresh water. This, also, is not up for debate.

      So, no, Carla, things are not ALWAYS up for debate.

    3. Bull sharks have that "mechanism" to deal with salt water inn there environment and the swim up rivers so shut the heck up...

    4. And some fish can breathe air, so that must mean that every fish can survive out of water, too, right?

      Guys? Right?

      Anon 5/8 at 12:03, if you had bothered to read anything that I wrote, and then bothered to actually comprehend any of it, you'd note that I already addressed the "BUT BULL SHARKS CAN, LIKE, TOTES DO IT!' argument.

      Let me sum it up: bull sharks and greenland sharks are entirely different animals. Your argument is stupid. May God have mercy on your soul.

  17. Loch Ness used to be connected to the sea directly several thousand years ago. A small population of greenland sharks could theoretically have lived there and been cut off from the sea by falling sea levels/rising land (I'm not a geologist so I don't know the technical terms!) And then . Adapted to the changing conditions of the loch? There's no proof for this, so why not take the methods for catching a greenland shark to the loch and see what comes up?

    1. People have been fishing in the loch for thousands of years. Literally thousands.

      If there was a sub group of sharks in there that had adapted to the loch over millenia we'd know it.

      Besides, it is unlikely that the loch has enough biomass to support a sustainable population of large predators.

    2. You say that the Loch Ness would already have shown it's secrets because people have lived there for thousands of years, but what about greenland shark then? They were almost unknown species before the 80's and the first underwater pictures are from the 90's. We still are not sure how they feed or live. As for greenland shark being a salt-water fish, there is always found abnormalities, there is also evolution and adaption. Bullshark, for example, live and reproduce happily in rivers. Here is an interesting link for more about greenland shark http://www.geerg.ca/gshark_1.html

    3. “You say that Loch Ness would have already shown its secrets because people have lived there for thousands of years, but what about the Greenland Shark, then? They were almost an unknown species until the 80s…”

      You’re actually proving my point though, in your example. You just don’t know it. Yes, the Greenland Shark was largely unknown to MODERN, WESTERN SCIENCE in the 80’s, but the people who lived near it and around it: the Scandinavians, the Icelandics, and the Inuit? They knew about it. They knew about it for eons before “modern science” put much interest into it.

      How do I know this? Because they fucking ATE it.

      It says so right in the “River Monsters” episodes. There is a scene where he meets with a guy who takes him to a traditional curing hut for “Harkarl,” which is fermented, dried Greenland Shark meat. The meat of the Greenland Shark is poisonous when fresh, so the process to make Harkarl involves weighing the carcass down with stone to “press” the urea and oxides out of the meat, then hanging it to dry in drying huts. This process is very old. Hundreds of years old, in fact.

      How do you posit that the locals of antiquity knew how to properly process the flesh of the otherwise poisonous Greenland Shark into something edible, if they knew nothing of its existence?

      It is obvious to me that the locals, who lived around where the Greenland Shark lives, have known about it for centuries. They’ve known about it for long enough that they were able to experiment with its poisonous flesh to find a way to make it edible, through a complicated, multi-step process that they didn’t just pull out of their asses. It took many tries, and many sharks, before they figured it out, and they were obviously catching enough of them to make it worth the trouble to figure it out. Otherwise, why bother? If you catch a strange shark, that you know will make you sick, once every ten years, you’d never even bother to figure out how to process it. Throw it back, catch something else…

      No, your example is further PROOF of why the Loch Ness monster as a Greenland Shark does not exist, not a reason that it COULD. The locals knew damn well that the Greenland Shark was a thing, just the same as the locals around the Loch would know damn well that there were Greenlands in the Loch, if there really were.

      As for your argument about the Bullshark being able to go into fresh water, I’ve covered that already, multiple times. The Bullshark and the Greenland Shark are very different, physiologically. There is no method by which the osmo-regulation system in the Greenland could handle fresh water. It would die in fresh water. Saying that because the Bullshark can live in fresh water, then the Greenland might be able to, is like saying that because lungfish and snakeheads can breathe air, that all fish should be able to breathe air. It is logically unsound.

      As for the website, that’s about the fifth time that I, or someone else, has linked to that site. That site does not “prove,” as many argue, that the Greenland has been found in fresh water. It merely states that they’ve been found in the saltwater reaches of the St. Lawrence River. NOT fresh water.

      I feel like I’m repeating myself a lot here – is it reading comprehension, or just people saying “tl;dr” and skipping to the end without actually reading any of the discussion?

  18. The wikipedia entry for the Greenland Shark refers to it being found in the Saguenay River, which drains into the St Lawrence River. The river drains Lac St Jean, passes the city of Saguenay and drains into the St Lawrence. This stretch of river must be freshwater? No suggestion of how long the sharks survive there though. Totally agree that any large fish in Loch Ness must be a visitor, not a permanent resident. large sturgeon is perhaps more likely.

    I saw a programme on UK TV several years ago which featured a large sonar survey of Loch Ness. At one point, one of the boats got a sonar contact which they described as (and I quote) "the size of a large shark". The boat turned around and went over the same place again, but the object had gone and there were no more contacts of interest.

    1. The Wikipedia article specifically references the Saguenay River Fjord, which is still saline enough to be considered brackish water 50 some miles upstream from the confluence of the Saguenay and St. Lawrence Rivers (the St. Lawrence being full-on saltwater at this point, and not even really brackish).


      Assuming I’m not completely computer illiterate, the link above should take curious readers to a Google Maps site for the confluence of the Saguenay and St. Lawrence river systems. The “Fjord” section of the Saguenay, which is the section in which Greenland Sharks have been found, continues to about the town of Saguenay on the map, and is absolutely positively NOT fresh water.

    2. As a result of the raised landmass, only salt water is left in the present Saguenay fjord.


      Go to the link, it talks about the Sanguenay Fjord, which is hom to Minke, Blue and beluga whales, and definitively states that the river Fjord, up to 60 miles inland, is 100% saltwater. Not even brackish.

      The GEERG website showing where the shark was seen in the Sag shows it being caught at or near the confluence with the St. Lawrence, which is well within the 100% saltwater region of that river basin.

  19. I agree with the saltwater thing & agree they neglected that point in the show, but where are you getting your info about the behaviour og Greenland sharks? They are lethargic at the surface, but they are found with a variety of food in their stomachs, including seal & salmon, they are potent predators & very much capable of swimming up a river, should it be salty enough.
    Anyway what about sleeper sharks? Heard them mentioned RE Loch Ness also.

    1. I can’t figure out how whatever food is in their stomach makes a difference about their lethargy. Just because it had seal in its stomach doesn’t mean that it killed the seal. One was found with polar bear in its stomach, but I highly doubt that the thing involved itself in a mano-e-mano duel to the death with a polar bear.

      From what little is known about Greenland sharks, it is suggested that a lot of the food they eat is scavenged, not necessarily caught and killed by the shark.

      As for the ability to swim up a river, if you read my article, I wasn’t saying that a Greenland Shark couldn’t navigate a rapid section. I was contrasting Jeremy Wade’s assurances that a sturgeon could never make it up the river, but then later suggesting a Greenland Shark could. Regardless of the potency of its predatory skills, the Greenland Shark is not more energetic and capable of swimming up rivers than a sturgeon, so if you’ve excluded sturgeon from the list for that reason, then a Greenland Shark would likewise be precluded.

      Sturgeon around here live their entire lives in turbulent, rapid rivers. I’ve fished for and caught them in class three whitewater rapids (class 4 is the highest level that is considered generally navigable, so a class three rapid is big whitewater). I’ve seen 12 foot sturgeon jump all the way out of the water when hooked. I doubt very much that a 12-foot Greenland Shark could jump all the way out of the water.

      FYI - I am an avid sturgeon fisherman, so I know a thing or two about them. A quick perusal of the rest of my blog will show pictures of the nine-footer I caught over Memorial Day weekend last year.

      As for your question about Sleeper Sharks, the only sleeper that I’m aware of that could get to sizes approaching that of the Greenland Shark (and therefore capable of being mistaken for the Loch Ness Monster) is the Pacific Sleeper (which, as you can probably guess from its name, doesn’t live in the Atlantic Ocean). The only sleeper shark known to live in the Atlantic Ocean* in the areas around Scotland is known as the “little sleeper” and its largest size is only about 5 to 6 feet long. Besides, the Greenland Shark and the Sleeper shark are very close to each other, biologically, and the Sleeper, I’m afraid, would have the same difficulties entering fresh water as the Greenland Shark would.

      *There is the Southern Sleeper, which lives in Antarctic Waters of the south Atlantic, but it is not found in the northern atlantic.

    2. Just to clarify - the Greenland Shark is often referred to as a "sleeper: shark, too, since they are in the same family. If you heard about sleeper sharks RE: Loch Ness, they were most likely actually talking about Greenland Sharks.

  20. Hi, I found your Blog while researching a story a friend told me. He was leaving a restaurant in Inverness City Centre when he looked into the fairly well lit river and saw a large 12-15 Feet creature swimming slowly near the river bank. He admits to sampling some of the local distillery's product which made his friends think he was pulling their leg but they also saw it. He said there was no obvious Dorsal Fin and the top appeared 'lumpy' so I wonder if possibly an Atlantic Sturgeon or Greenland Shark.

    I had a watch of the show you reviewed and im surprised there is no mention of the Caledonian Canal, its 18 feet deep and 35 feet wide and connects Loch Ness to the North Sea at Inverness and The Atlantic at Fort William, the MV Lord of the Glens travels through it regularly and its pretty big, Gross Tonnage is over 700 Tonnes so I can imagine something like a sturgeon or shark sneaking in with one of the smaller boats.

    1. That’s cool as hell. At Inverness, you’re well into the estuarine stretches of the river ness, so it literally could have been anything. Sharks, whales, sturgeon…


      This is why I love marine biology – you absolutely never know what you’re going to run into.

    2. BTW, if it was, indeed,, 12 to 15 feet long, it was likely not a sturgeon. Atlantic Sturgeon rarely grow to such massive proportions. Not saying they can't, or haven't been found up to 15 feet long, it's just rare to find atlantics over 6 or 7 feet.

      Now, the White sturgeon around these parts...

      Used to be you could pull 22 footers out of the Columbia River. You want to talk about something that could be mistaken for a monster?

    3. As for caledonian canal, I wondered that, too. But I was also under the impression that it isn't used much in this day and age anymore? Or am I mistaken?

    4. I showed him a video of a sturgeon and nothing was familiar about it but when I showed him a video of the Greenland Shark meandering along he was like "thats what I saw!" right shape, size, speed and movement. Its quite common to get seals swimming through the city centre so it may have been having a snack. Back when I used to work nightshift I bumped into a European Otter wandering the City streets, I thought it was a cat coming towards me until it turned side on.

      The Canal is quiet during winter time but it is packed during summer time, there is a waiting list for Berths and a new marina at Inverness Harbour is holding overflow, though it looks pretty packed too.

      I wish I had my own boat, theres Orca's, Minke Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises seen in the Moray Firth, the Dolphins are usually visible from the Shore but I need a camera with a better zoom for good photos. Theres been a few claims of a Great White visiting Recently but I think thats more likely on the West Coast where the Gulf Stream brings warmer waters.

    5. “that’s what I saw!”

      Then it probably was what he saw. There isn’t a lot of things running around out there that look quite like a Greenland Shark. I’m jealous – I’ve never seen one in real life.

      As for the canal, I’m jealous of that, too. It sounds kind of awesome. We have something like that near where I used to live, in Seattle, Washington. The Lake Union Ship canal. It only has one set of locks and is a lot shorter, but it goes from a freshwater lake to saltwater, also, which I think is cool. I have a jet boat that is capable of running in very shallow drafts, which allows me to launch in rivers and boat across the shallow river bars, even non-dredged, and it is pretty cool to be able to go back and forth between a fresh water and marine environment on a boat. For some reason, things that go back and forth (anadramous creatures) have always fascinated me. That’s why I post so often about salmon dn steelhead and sturgeon, because they all live in both worlds, and that is just cool.

      I was salmon fishing in Portland, Oregon last year, about 60 some miles up the Columbia River from the saltwater, and there were sea lions swimming all around the boat. I don’t know why that was so cool to me, but it really was.

      I’ve heard that the gasoline prices in Scotland and thereabouts are pretty high. We’re around $3.50 per US gallon around here, and at 2 to 3 miles per gallon, running a boat can get darned expensive. I’m guessing the problem is compounded in Scotland if your fuel prices are as much higher than ours as I’ve heard. Either way, I hope you’re able to get your boat some day – mine has brought countless hours of enjoyment to my family – worth every penny. Either way, fair winds and following seas to you!

    6. Love to have seen that in Inverness!!! Did it not occur to any of them to whip out their phones and try to capture some footage, or at least a pic. . . ?

      A rough calculation gives me an answer of about $7.90 per US gallon for petrol/gasoline here, so yeah, quite expensive.

    7. Holy cow - $8 a gallon is a lot of dough. By my rough math, our equivalent would be about .52p per liter (our cost here in the US) compared to your 93p per liter (your cost there in the UK). (or litre, in your case, as you strange folks seem to be unable to spell properly :)

      As for video or pictures - it is insanely difficult to get good video or pictures of an animal in dark water when you aren't int he water, filming from under the surface. My guess is that if they'd have tried, all they would have gotten is glare from the reflection of the city lights. Still, I'm envious of his sighting.

    8. Regarding the Caledonian Canal:
      There are quite a few locks on the canal between Loch Ness and the sea, so a marine creature would not only have to be swimming from saltier to fresher water, it would also have to be waiting around for people to operate the locks, at no point deciding it might be better to turn round an head for the sea. You'd have a huge marine creature hanging around in a maximum of 18ft of water, at several points unable to escape in any direction, remaining completely unseen by all the people on the busy canal.

  21. In my life I have had the pleasure of working with countless members of the Scientific community in many different capacities and in a wide spectrum of the Science category - from Biochemists to Atomic Physicists to Marine Biologists. And the one thing they ALL repeated time and again was that NOTHING is EVER absolute. Just when you think you have something all figured out, that there isn't anything new about it or that it 100% certainty and fact suddenly something will come along and prove you wrong. In fact, most of the really good scientists of note will NEVER say that anything is only one way and could not possibly be anything else for just that reason. Evolution is happening everyday. There are off shoot species of various fish, birds and mammals that have proven this. So while you may be a very smart person and very well instructed in many aspects of your field I have to agree with my colleagues that one must never say never about anything.

  22. It seems that Jeremy agrees with you, too. This is a quote from the Reddit AMA he did:

    [–]Jeremy_Wade[S] 162 points 1 month ago
    Yes, you have to watch the episode, but that program, our journey ended up with a Greenland shark. But I think a strong candidate is a sturgeon. In the past, individual sturgeons have swum up British rivers, so it's possible they might have found their way into Loch Ness. And some years ago, there were some large creatures detected by sonar. I think the most likely explanation is sturgeon. But that doesn't mean they're there now.
    p.s. Sturgeon are normally on the bottom, but they will bask on the surface occasionally.

  23. Anyone looked at sea levels for flooding with the river/estuary that links the loch to sea over the last few hundred or so years.Like King Arthur and Robin Hood;the culprit could exist in more than one form.Surely Greenland sharks could navigate at certain times up the river into the loch.And if incapable of living in it's fresh water die in there;after making it's prescence felt

  24. All I am going to say is:

    1. So, Robby…

      Am I to assume that you didn’t read the article, or any of the comments on the article before posting your comment?

      Because the link to the article that you provided is a link that I’ve read many times. It’s a link to an article that says that Greenland Sharks have been found in the St. Lawrence River. If you had read ANY of the article, or ANY of the subsequent comments, you would know that this has already been addressed, multiple times, in both venues.

      At the risk of repeating myself, ad nauseum, I’ll say this again:

      The Greenland Shark was found in the St. Lawrence River far below the bounds of the fresh water limits of that water way. The areas that the shark have been found are all tidal, marine environments that are up to 2,000 feet deep and are very, very much salt water. In the case of your article, we aren’t even talking about brackish water here. The area referenced in your article is totally, 100%, without debate, SALT water. We’re talking whales, barnacles, crabs… the works.

      The St. Lawrence River is sort of unique because it is a fresh water river that enters into a massive saltwater fjord that many people refer to as “the St. Lawrence Seaway” but many others also refer to as “the St. Lawrence River” when it is really no such thing. The only currents in the seaway are tidal. The water is salty. The environment is not riverine, or even estuarine, but is totally and completely marine.

      The Greenland Shark has never been found in fresh water. No matter how many articles you read, completely misunderstand, and then snarkily and cleverly post to my comments section thinking you’ve gotten one up on me, the facts of reality, and those of biology, cannot be contravened by your super-seriously wishing that something is true.

  25. In a legitimate point have none of you ever heard about devils lake where sturgeon are known to suck ducks right off the top of the water? Also a blue whale has no teeth but it could easily just swallow you. I really wonder of any of you are true fishermen, because if you really fished for them like you say you do you would know that sturgeon are known to be predatory animals if it thinks it can win, so honestly all I'm hearing on this site is you're all jealous j.wade got a show doing what he loves.

    1. What in the hell are you talking about? How does a sturgeon eating a duck or a blue whale swallowing a person have any relevance whatsoever to the discussion?

      Where did a discussion about sturgeon not being predators come up?

      What in the hell are you even talking about?