Toothy sleepers

A loving God did not send us to this earth because He thought we would be safe here. From the beginning, it appears, we were meant to move on. We do not even loiter for as long as some Greenland sharks, estimated to live for more than five hundred years, and to start reproducing at age one hundred fifty, by some scientists. (Whom do we trust more?)

True, we are very rarely eaten by the Greenland sharks (one of the Somniosidae, or sleeper sharks), and are usually safe from them, because we seldom swim in Arctic waters. Indeed, more have probably died from trying to consume a “gurry” than from being consumed by one, for their flesh is flush with uremic toxins. Only an Icelander will put this delicacy in his mouth, and then only when it has been repeatedly boiled, hung and dried, or buried and fermented for months. Whenupon, it still reeks of ammonia. (We can easily understand their patience.)

These sharks can swim a mile deep or more, where the water tends to be somewhat cooler than at the surface; they move in a very slow and deliberate way. Yet whole moose and reindeer have been found in their bellies, so we may assume they are skilled at sneaking up. (Perhaps their prey would also be wise, to avoid swimming in the Arctic seas.)

Most curious is the Greenland shark’s antipathy for endings. As an old Arctic fisherman has told us, it is not easy to despatch one, for even when thought to be dead, it can still reflexively bite. Indeed, even the detached head will protest its execution for a few days. (My source for this was published in 1834.)

It thus resembles Mr Joe Biden, who continues to campaign after his reported demise.