Scientists have discovered the world's oldest recorded tropical reef fish, the 81-year-old midnight Snapper, off the coast of Western Australia.
The 80-year-old fish was found by the Australian Institute of Marine Science scholls, about 300 kilometres west of the Australian city of Broome, as part of a study on the longevity of tropical fish.
The researchers studied three species of fish that are not normally targeted by commercial or recreational fishing in Western Australia and the Chagos Archipelago in the central Indian Ocean. Species included red seabass, night-time starches and black and white hruncing.
Red fish, blue fish, old fish....older-that-we-thought fish!— Australian Institute of Marine Science (@aims_gov_au) December 2, 2020
An 81-year old midnight snapper caught at WA’s Rowley Shoals is thought to be the world’s oldest tropical #reef #fish, beating the previous record holder by two decades.
Learn more: https://t.co/UgHNH5XtIs pic.twitter.com/QiHVtBa6gl
Researchers identified the 81-year-old herding fish along with 10 other fish over the age of 60, including the 79-year-old red Lutjanus bohar, which was also caught at Rowley Schulz, an area stretching across three coral reefs on the edge of Australia's continental shelf.
Marine scientists determined the age of the fish by dissecting it and studying its earbone, or ear stones, which contain annual growth ranges, in a similar way to calculating tree rings.
Brett Taylor, a fish biologist who led the study, said the night-time shark surpassed the previous record by two decades, explaining that the oldest fish found in tropical shallowwaters was 60 years old.
Taylor said the research will help scientists understand how fish's length and age are affected by climate change.
"We monitor fish at different latitudes, at varying water temperatures, to understand how they react better when temperatures rise everywhere," Taylor said.
This 80-year-old fish is not the oldest marine creature on Earth.
Greenland's sharks, native to the Arctic sea, are the longest-lived vertebrates on earth, and University of Copenhagen researchers have estimated that these sharks live at least 400 years, nearly two centuries longer than whales.