What Age do Great White Sharks Reach

shark cage diving with GoPro


Peter Verhoog

Here at African Shark Eco-Charters, we have recently been getting a lot of questions about what age do Great White Sharks reach, and there is no easy answer to this question, because there is not really a lot of data on this.

The main source of information we gather is from the inshore habitats of the Great White Shark that we easily access, and this is not a true reflection of the Great White Shark in its natural habitat.

If you look at the existing estimates and the research that they are based on you will get an answer of between 25 to possibly more than 100 years, but this range is far too wide and collected by very unspecific methods so it cannot be called accurate.

The biggest problem is how do you age a Great White Shark, recently Great White Sharks have started getting tagged but this data and information is still very young and needs a few more decades of research before an actual scientific answer is reached from the Tagging information.

Sharks are long-lived animals that grow very slowly and do not produce many young. In many parts of the world, sharks are fished commercially, thus, in order to ensure proper management of the stocks, age and growth data must be obtained. With this data, we can determine the longevity of the species as well as maximum age, age at maturity, growth rate, and differences in growth between males and females.

  great white shark Currently Great White Sharks are aged from cutting into their spines and removing a  30cm piece of  the backbone from the shark just over the gills. If you have a look at a Great White Sharks vertebrae you will see Growth rings, but here is the problem how does this relate to sharks, as it is very difficult to age a shark through this method, does one growth ring indicate a year or possibly two years, scientists are still arguing this fact with no real results. You can see the obvious problem with this method, the Shark needs to be dead to do this, and since Great White Sharks are a protected species, it would be a horrific option to kill these marvelous animals just to be able to age them.    So for now no one can give you an accurate reading on how old Great White Sharks live for, it could be anything in the range of more than 20 years and less than 1000 years. We can just hope that accurate data is collected from tagged Sharks, and Great White Sharks are allowed to live long enough to reach their full age in a healthy marine environment.

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