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!
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.