The Greenland Shark takes the prize as the earths longest-lived vertebrate, or an animal with a backbone. The information comes from a study on Greenland sharks profiled and listed in Science. Greenland sharks live to be 200 years or older by scientists’ best estimates. One enormous female was aged at least 270 when she was caught. She may well have been 390.
The scientists’ results give the Greenland shark the longevity prize from the bowhead whale, the previous record-holding vertebrate. The oldest bowhead reached a mere 211 years.
The Greenland shark has all the hallmarks of an animal that survives to extreme old age, says Jelle Boonekamp of the Netherland’s University of Groningen.
For starters females can stretch 15 feet, which is longer than a station wagon. These proportions mean the shark has few predators.
“The biggest sharks probably “don’t have to eat every day. They might just have a big meal once or twice a year,” hypothesizes study co-author Julius Nielsen of Denmark’s University of Copenhagen.
How long and big do sharks in the Gulf of Mexico become?
A group fishing in the Gulf of Mexico were treated to a rare sighting of a whale shark, purported to be the world’s largest fish species.
The crew fishing off the coast of Tampa, Fla., managed to catch on video a whale shark as it swam by their boat about 40 miles from Anna Maria island. Whale sharks have been known to reach more than 40 feet in length and almost 50,000 pounds in weight.
The three couples on the boat are heard exclaiming, “Wow,” on the video, amazed by the size of the mammoth creature. “We could have touched it,” Beverly Higgins told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, adding that the whale shark seemed longer than their 26-foot boat.
Whale shark sightings are highly unusual. Many scuba divers spend their whole careers hoping for one. Whale sharks are known as gentle filter fish and are generally found in tropical and warm oceans, sometimes living to age 70.