As many as two million seals are estimated to inhabit Greenland’s coasts; species include the hooded seal (Cystophora cristata) as well as the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus). Whales frequently pass very close to Greenlandic shores in the late summer and early autumn. Species represented include the beluga whale, blue whale, Greenland whale, fin whale, humpback whale, minke whale, narwhal, pilot whale, sperm whale. Whaling was formerly a major industry in Greenland; by the turn of the 20th century, however, the right whale population was so depleted that the industry was in deep decline. Walruses are to be found primarily in the north and east of the country; like narwhal, they have at times suffered from overhunting for their tusks.
Of the many species of fish inhabiting Greenland’s waters, several have been of economic importance, including cod, caplin, halibut, rockfish, nipisak (Cycloperteus lumpus) and sea trout. The Greenland shark is used for the oil in its liver, as well as fermented and eaten as hákarl, a local delicacy.