AN ancient semi-blind shark has been sighted in the Caribbean after migrating from its arctic home.
The 500-year-old animal was sighted off the coast of Belize by a team of researchers traveling on a boat tagging tiger sharks with local fishermen.
The team set out a longline to catch the sharks but couldn’t believe their eyes when the Greenland shark appeared.
They initially thought the shark, which looked “really, really old,” was dead, but it came to life, said Florida International University researcher Devanshi Kasana.
“It was just very surprising and confusing,” Kasana told NPR.
“As soon as it came into view, we saw a black shape that grew larger and larger.
“When it came to the surface none of the crew with all their combined fishing experience had seen anything like it.”
Kasana took a picture of the creature and sent it to her supervisor, who said it appeared to be a Greenland shark, one of the longest-living creatures on the planet.
It is believed to be the first time a bowhead shark has been sighted in the western Caribbean.
Experts believe that bowhead sharks dive deeper to find cooler water the further they stray from their natural habitat, which can go as deep as 7,000 feet.
The water the team worked in can be as shallow as 25 feet, but drops precipitously in places, reaching more than 2,000 feet, which could explain why they caught the ancient shark.
“It drops off suddenly and the depth goes very deep very quickly,” Kasana said.
“We believe the line was pulled to the drop off from a much shallower depth, which is why we ended up catching that person.”
“If we caught another individual it would be sheer luck, we don’t set our lines to target Greenland sharks.”
The team considered tagging the shark, which they didn’t want to accidentally injure or kill in the name of science.
Instead, they measured the shark, took notes and a photo, and then sent it on its journey.
Ancient Beasts: Some of the longest living creatures in the world
- Aldabra giant tortoise – This species has been known to live up to 255 years, making it the world’s oldest land animal
- Glass sponges (pictured) – Found in the East China Sea and Southern Ocean, specimens have been found that are over 10,000 years old
- Great Basin Bristlecone Pine – A tree is the oldest in North America at 5,067 years
- Endolith – A microorganism that lives in rock. One was found on the sea floor in 2013 within a generation time of 10,000 years
- Hydra – a marine species that does not age, making them technically immortal
- Creme Puff – The oldest known domestic cat, who died in Austin Texas in 2005 at the age of 38 years and three days
- Jeanne Calment – French great-grandmother who died in 1997 aged 122 years and 164 days. She outlived her daughter and grandson by several decades.
Greenland sharks grow about a third of an inch a year and can grow to more than 20 feet in length.
Researchers believe that sharks do not become sexually mature until sometime after the first 100 years of their lives.
In 2019, a Greenland shark was found in the Atlantic Ocean and is believed to be the oldest living vertebra.
According to a study in the journal Science, experts used its length — a staggering 18 feet — and radiocarbon dating to place its age at between 272 and 512 years.
The shark would have been alive during major world events such as the founding of the United States, the Napoleonic Wars, and the sinking of the Titanic.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5971650/ancient-shark-potted-caribbean-travelling-from-arctic/ Old semi-blind 16-foot shark that can live 500 YEARS has been sighted in the Caribbean after voyaging from the Arctic