How Long Do Sharks Live in Captivity and in the Wild

Sharks are one of the most fearsome and least understood of all animals. These potential predators have made their presence felt in the oceans for millions of years, yet their existence remains a matter of debate as thousands of sharks were subject to human-hunting or poaching each year. Now let’s figure out how long do sharks live! In the case of land animals or birds, the lifespan is shorter in the wild than in captivity; however, this does not hold true in case of sharks as they are found to live for longer period of time in the wild than in captivity. This might be due to various factors such as they couldn’t find natural environment, enough prey, or enough space to wander around.

How Long Do Sharks Live

One can assess sharks lifespan by keeping them in captivity, by counting growth rings on their vertebrae and or by tagging to measure the age. A handful number of these species are kept in captivity for longer periods. It goes without saying that keeping sharks in captivity is a real feat, whereby some species can survive for decades and thus indicating longer lifespans. Unluckily, most aquaria lack record of the precise lifespan of captive sharks, and important data on the longevity of sharks is typically lost. However, scientists have tried several times to tag sharks that are not shed by these species which, indeed, indicates longevity in few species. For instance, National Marine Fisheries Service’s Cooperative Shark Tagging Program tagged more than 60,000 blue sharks in the last few decades; assuming that tagging does not affect shark’s lifespan. The longest period between tagging and recovery is about 8.5 years. It follows that if the sharks were tagged at the age of 2 to 3 years, it’d be possible that the maximum lifespan of blue shark is around 15 to 20 years.

Scientists commonly rely on the method for aging sharks in which the number of growth bands are counted that sporadically rests on their vertebrae or spines. One can count these rings, after being viewed under X-rays. According to the scientists, if we can measure the rate at which these rings are produced, we can actually measure the shark’s age. Having said that, it won’t be easy for scientists to measure shark’s lifespan in the wild since they are migratory and have flexible feeding patterns. Nevertheless, now it becomes rather more feasible with the GPS technology that tracks feeding and migration pattern of these species.

how long do sharks live | sharks lifespan
Great White Shark
Image Courtesy of Washingtonpost.com

How Long Do Great White Sharks Live

(How Long Do Sharks Live)

Many sharks can live for about 20 to 30 years, with some species are known to live a fairly longer life. The lifespans of large sharks are greater than that of the smaller sharks. Great white shark reaches its maturity at the age of 15 and it has the lifespan of 25 to 30 years.

How Long Do Tiger Sharks Live

The average lifespan of tiger sharks is 50 years in the wild.

How Long Do Nurse Sharks Live

(How Long Do Sharks Live)

The average lifespan of nurse sharks is 25 years in captivity.

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A professional writer and a passionate wildlife enthusiast, who is mostly found hooked to his laptop or in libraries researching about the wildlife.

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