Shark Lifespan Research

For years scientists have been using a well established method to detect the age of sharks. When a researcher needed to know how long a Pacific Ocean shark had lived for they could simply count the bands on the spines of the animal. However, the journal Fish and Fisheries announced in August 2017 that this method was ineffective.

Underestimating Age

Fish and Fisheries stated that research has found that the old method was inaccurate because it often gives a lower number of years than the actual age of the shark being measured. What this means is that sharks can live for many more years than scientists previously assumed.

One third of the results arrived at from spine band counting has been found to give underestimating age numbers. This is a significantly large proportion and shows just how ineffective this practice has been. It equates to using an old folks’ tale for scientific measure.

Real world effects

The fact that this method is ineffective means that models that rely on it may have to be completely rethought. Studies may be dismissed as inaccurate and old research findings will be more heavily scrutinised. These models are used to set laws on sustainable fishing. This is worrying and may result in the fishing rules of entire institutions being changed. These are just some of the real world repercussions of recent findings.


This bombshell comes just after a study concluding that Greenland sharks are the oldest of its species in the world. It is likely they are even the longest living of all known vertebrates.

Sharks have been an obsession of popular culture since the release of the suspense film Jaws. Despite the amount of interest in the species this new development shows that there are many aspects of the animal that remain a mystery to scientists.