The oldest fish on coral reefs

What is the average lifespan of marine fish? It’s been about twenty years. Some species, like groupers, can easily live for half a century. Shallow water tropical fish also have a long life expectancy, even up to 60 years. But now a midnight snapper (Macolor macularis) broke these records. Researchers at the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences found the oldest fish on coral reefs: it is 81 years old.

The midnight snapper is the oldest fish on coral reefs.
The midnight snapper is the oldest fish on coral reefs.
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The eighty year old fish was found in Rowley Shoals, Australia. The research wanted to know how long tropical fish can live and how climate change affects them. The study was published in the journal “Coral Reefs”. He identified 11 fish that were over 60 years old, including a 79-year-old redfish that was also caught in the same area. Biologists believe this is a trend: species can extend their lifespan.

«He survived World War II. He saw the Beatles take over the world and took part in a fisheries survey after the Nirvana got together and then split, “Brett Taylor said in a statement. He is the AIMS fish biologist and lead author on the study.” It’s incredible that a fish lived on a coral reef for 81 years. “

The previous data indicated that they could live for about sixty years at most. In fact, the oldest fish found in the past two decades were around this age. The researchers captured these specimens and euthanized them in 2016 to determine their age by examining their otoliths. It is a structure of the inner ear of fish. The annual growth is reflected in the same way as the rings in the tree trunks.

The age of the oldest fish in coral reefs is evidenced by its bones.
The age of the oldest fish in coral reefs is evidenced by its bones.
Australia and the future

The study focused on the east coast of Australia and the Chagos Archipelago (Central Indian Ocean). Three specific species have been observed there. Red sea bass, midnight snapper and black and white snapper. The oldest fish on coral reefs is a midnight snapper.

“There are two types that get octagonal, probably even older,” says Taylor. “We observe fish in different latitudes and with different water temperatures. We want to better understand how these species can react when the heat increases, ”he continues. If they live long enough, the fish may see the consequences.

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