The National Aquarium and its Animal Care and Rescue Center are temporarily closed in response to COVID-19. Help support us while we are closed by Donating Today.

Greenland Sharks Can Live for Centuries!

New research shows that Greenland sharks may live longer than any other vertebrate species on Earth..

Published August 16, 2016

Using radiocarbon dating technology, scientists have been able to study the age of Greenland sharks in a completely new way. They measured the eye lens nuclei from 28 female sharks. The tests revealed lifespans of at least 272 years!

greenland-shark

Most sharks, on average, live to be less than 100 years old. Other aquatic animals, such as dolphins and seals, have lifespans of less than 50 years. This new insight into the longevity of Greenland sharks gives scientists clues into their ability to thrive in an artic environment. 

Research also showed that Greenland sharks do not reach maturity until 150 years old. Those extremely cold waters allow them to move slowly and keep their internal body temperature cool. Scientists believe that this contributes to their longevity.

Without many natural predators, the biggest threat to these sharks is warming waters. Their long lifespan makes them more susceptible to changes in their environment, especially prior to maturity. Sharks need to reach at least 150 years old to reproduce and therefore sustain their species.

To read more about the research findings, check out this article in Science


Previous Post

Featured Stories

Vampire squid Rollin' In The Deep

For generations, humankind has referred to outer space as the final frontier. But what about the unknown depths of our own planet?

Read the full story

octo header No Hands? No Problem: Tool Use Among Aquatic Animals

Aquatic animals are resourceful—just like humans, when they can’t solve a problem, they can look to the world around them ... and fashion tools!  

Read the full story

Related Stories

Spooky Sharks

Published October 21, 2019

How Do Marine Animals Weather Hurricanes?

Published October 17, 2019