They might be glacially slow swimmers, but Greenland sharks have a knack for popping up in unexpected places (we're pretty sure they're on a crusade for world domination). The mysterious fish were once thought to inhabit only the icy waters off Greenland and Iceland, but have since been reported in Portugal, Canada, France, Scotland ... and now Russia! 

It was National Geographic mechanical engineer Alan Turchik who first spotted the shark on deep-sea footage recorded in Franz Josef Land, a collection of 192 islands north of Russia's Barents Sea (needless to say, some four-letter words followed the discovery). "I lost it a little bit," he says with a laugh. "It was very exciting ... these sharks are one of the largest on earth, but one had never been seen in Franz Josef Land until now!"

We can certainly understand Turchilk's excitement! Greenland sharks are thought to live for well over 100 years, but because they spend most of their time lumbering at depths of 150-800 metres (492-2624 feet) and in frigid waters that are expensive to explore, capturing one on video is a big deal for science – even if the encounter is as short as this one!

"I've worked with these deep sea cameras for three years now and there are definitely moments where I wish I could see just a little more," says Turchilk. "Trying to observe something without disturbing it deep in the ocean is a difficult task ... [so] we're working on improving our current system with low-light cameras and motion detectors. Hopefully we'll be able to deploy the new system soon and get some great results!"

Want to know more about how scientists track these Arctic giants? Check out what Greenland shark researcher Dr Julius Neilson and his team are up to!

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Top header image: NOAA Photo Library, Flickr