A shark that keeps to itself

The Hexanthus Girseus is Greece’s «own» shark, an ancient scavenger that is fortunately unknown to most people, as it stays away from swimmers at depths of 300-400 meters – adult sharks have even been known to go to depths of 2,300 meters. It chooses warm waters – the southern Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and the island archipelagos of the Pacific. In the Aegean, the gray shark, as it is commonly known, is found in groups, although scientists have not been able to determine exactly how large. «Whenever we have set out bait to attract them to photograph them, about five or six appear within a very short time,» said Athanassios Tselepidis, research director at the Greek Marine Research Center of Crete (ELKETHE). A successful species, it has managed to survive easily in an environment that provides little food. «Only 0.5 percent of the organic matter produced on the surface reaches down to 2,000 meters, where no more than 10 species survive. The gray shark prevails there thanks to its ability to scavenge on carrion such as the carcasses of whales, dolphins and squid,» said Tselepidis. The gray shark has a very adaptable metabolism that allows it to travel within a short period of time from depths of 2,000 meters up to 100 meters to find food and then return to its natural environment. Very few marine species can make such rapid adjustments,» he explained. According to official statistics on shark attacks around the world, there is only one recorded incident of a gray shark attacking a human since 1500. «These sharks never rise to the surface and always live near the seabed. It lives on carrion and never attacks any living organisms, let alone humans.»

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