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Scientists have discovered the world's oldest tropical fish

In Australia, scientists have discovered the world’s oldest known tropical fish! The record holder is an 81-year-old snapper of the species Macolor macularis. The fish was caught off the coast of Western Australia and, after examination, quickly became known as the oldest ever encountered in tropical waters around the world. It all happened in 2016
Published: December 4, 2020 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 21:39
Scientists have discovered the world’s oldest tropical fish

In Australia, scientists have discovered the world’s oldest known tropical fish! The record holder is an 81-year-old snapper of the species Macolor macularis. The fish was caught off the coast of Western Australia and, after examination, quickly became known as the oldest ever encountered in tropical waters around the world.

It all happened in 2016 at Rowley Shoals, about 185 Mm west of the town of Broome. It was here that a snapper was caught as part of a study that changed scientists’ knowledge of the lifespan of tropical fish.

Interestingly, another fish caught at Rowley Shoals in 1997 was also 79 years old. This was a red perch, which was also included in the study. As Australian scientists point out, both fish were two decades older than the previous record holder.

So far, the oldest fish we have found in shallow tropical waters were about 60 years old, said Dr Brett Taylor, a fish biologist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science who led the study

The research, published recently in the journal Coral Reefs, focused on four locations along the coast of Western Australia, as well as the protected Chagos Archipelago in the central Indian Ocean.

Three species that are not targeted in the region were looked at: red perch Lutjanus bohar, red snapper Macolor macularis and black and white snapper Macolor niger. Using the otolith to accurately determine their age, biologists have identified 11 individuals that were more than 60 years old. The bones of the otolith contain annual growth striations that can be counted similar to tree rings.

The record-breaking snapper is believed to have been born in 1935, while the older sea bass (sea bass) was still born during the First World War. Dr Taylor stressed that the research will help marine biologists investigate how climate change will affect the growth and ageing of fish.

Photo: Brett Taylor/Australian Institute of Marine Science

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About author

Marcin Pawełczyk
Marcin’s journey with diving has been an adventure. Starting as a recreational diver, he soon found himself drawn to the fascinating stories and mysteries of Baltic wrecks. After gaining experience, Marcin decided to go beyond just leisurely exploration and took his training up a notch by completing the TMX course, allowing him to explore even deeper and uncover the secrets of inaccessible places. His next challenge has been cave diving, where he is honing his skills to become a certified diver. Not content to simply take in the breathtaking beauty of underwater life, Marcin has also embraced underwater photography since 2018, capturing stunning shots that bring these worlds alive for those who are unable to experience them first-hand. Marcin’s passion for the underwater has taken him far and is sure to continue doing so as he dives into new depths and captures breathtaking images.
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