Bowhead Whale

Image of a Bowhead WhaleBowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) weigh on average 100,000 kg, about the size of Boeing 757. That’s roughly 17,000 times larger than the rougheyed rockfish and 250,000 times larger than the red sea urchin (seen below). Longevity has been estimated at over 200 years by measuring changes in the eye lens crystallins in harvested animals. Their exceptional longevity was confirmed by the recovery from recent carcasses of bone harpoon tips used only by ancient indigenous hunters in the 19th century and earlier. For more information on bowhead, whale aging explore the Successful Aging library.

Photo: Brian Skerry

Red Sea Urchin

Image of a Red Sea UrchinRed sea urchins (Mesocentrotus franciscanus) show no age-related decline in reproduction or age-dependent changes in mortality rate, suggesting they might not age. Using 14C dating, Ebert and Southon (2003) estimated that urchins they sampled in the wild were as much as 200 years old. A large urchin weighs about 300g — about the same as a box of pasta.

Read more about urchin aging in the Successful Aging library.

Photo: Mehgan Murphy/Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Rougheyed Rockfish

Image of a Rougheyed RockfishThe rougheyed rock fish (Sebastes aleutianus) is found in the north Pacific at depths ranging from 150 to 450 meters. Maximum recorded weight is 6.7 kg, the size of a large housecat. With no apparent decline in egg production at 80 years of age, this animal doesn’t appear to age. The oldest specimen collected off the coast of SE Alaska was aged at 205 years, using seasonal growth rings deposited on otoliths — calcareous bones of the inner ear. Other species in the same Sebastes genus only live into their teens, making this group of fishes particularly interesting for uncovering mechanisms of exceptionally slow aging.

To read more about this and other rockfish explore the Successful Aging library.

Greenland Shark

Image of a Greenland SharkThe large (4 m in length at sexual maturity) Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus) has been estimated by radiocarbon dating of eye lenses to live an average adult longevity of 272 years with a maximum estimated at 392 (± 120) years. Age at maturity for females was estimated at 156 (± 22) years. Greenland sharks live in cold water and have a very low rate of growth and metabolism. Their maximum swimming speed was measured at 0.74 meters per second, which is slower than the normal human walking speed.