The shark vertebral samples for this study were provided by Natanson from the Apex Predators Program, which maintains one of the largest collections of North Atlantic white shark vertebrae.The Apex Predators Program, located at the NEFSC’s Narragansett Laboratory in Rhode Island, collects basic demographic information about sharks and their life histories by conducting research on their distribution and migration patterns, age and growth, reproductive biology, and feeding ecology.Natanson and colleagues suggest that either white sharks are living significantly longer and growing slower in the Northwest Atlantic than either the Pacific or Indian Oceans, or longevity has been underestimated in previous studies.
In this study, researchers from NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) compared radiocarbon values from the shark vertebrae with reference chronologies documenting the marine uptake of carbon 14 produced by the atmospheric bomb testing.
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NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources.
This first successful radiocarbon age-validation study analyzed vertebrae from four male and four female white sharks ( caught between 19 in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean.
"Ageing sharks has traditionally relied on counting growth band pairs, like tree rings, in vertebrae with the assumption that band pairs are deposited annually and are related to age," said Lisa Natanson, a fisheries biologist in the Apex Predators Program at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and a co-author of the study.
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