How old do whales and sharks live?

Last Saturday was the worst day I have “worked” the layout. Worked means answered visitor questions and talked to them about our layout (the Mendocino Coast Model Railroad and Navigation Co.) here in Fort Bragg. The wind was howling. The sheeting rain was horizontal and it was COLD. The layout was packed because it was a holiday weekend and, given the inclement weather, there aren’t too many places you can go for entertainment.

So, there I was freezing my butt at the south end of the layout where the wind was crashing the door closed talking to a couple who wanted to know more about the Point Cabrillo lighthouse. The conversation was sparked by our diorama of Point Cabrillo. I explained that the Point Cabrillo lighthouse was a grand place to visit especially when the whales are passing up and down the coast but perhaps not a good place to visit on a day like to day. Just as they were about to leave their young (10?) son started asking questions about whales and sharks. I did my best to answer but was stumped on the question of how long sharks and whales lived. I asked my fellow docent and he was as clueless as me.

Without too much difficulty my web search armed me with enough info for me to answer the question again – that is if i am ever asked!

The humpback whale is not only one of the best-known whale species in the world, but considered among the most popular. You can find them in every ocean, so anywhere you are, as long as you’re in their breeding or feeding grounds, you might just catch a glimpse of one.

humpback whale old animals mammal
Humpback whale
Known for their lovely singing, humpback whales are not skittish. They’re considered to be quite friendly, and are often curious about that boat passing near them. And while the average humpback whale lives to about 50, there are reports of them reaching the ripe old age of 95.
OK – now for the age of sharks ……..
A shark believed to be the oldest living vertebrate has been discovered — and it could be older than Shakespeare. The massive Greenland shark was found in the North Atlantic ocean by scientists who estimated it is up to 512 years old.
 A Greenland shark is caught by fishermen. One of a group of 28 analysed by scientists is believed to be up to 512 years old (file picture)

A Greenland shark  caught by fishermen.

They used its size to suggest its year of birth is as early as 1505 – when future King Henry VIII ended his engagement to Catherine of Aragon.

Greenland sharks, which only grow 1 cm a year, have been known to live for hundreds of years  Experts used its length – a staggering 18 foott – and radiocarbon dating to determine its age as between 272 and 512 years old, according to a study in journal, Science.  It was the oldest of a group of 28 Greenland sharks analysed for the study.

 Greenland sharks are known for their longevity, living for hundreds of years (file picture)

Greenland sharks are known for their longevity, living for hundreds of years