AN ancient half-blind shark has been spotted in the Caribbean after straying from his Arctic home.
The 500-year-old beast was spotted off the coast of Belize by a team of researchers who were out on a boat tagging tiger sharks with local fishermen.
The team put out a longline in bid to catch the sharks but couldn’t believe their eyes when the Greenland shark appeared.
Initially they thought the shark, which looked “really, really old, was dead but it sprung to life said Florida International University researcher Devanshi Kasana.
"It was just very surprising and confusing," Kasana told NPR .
"As soon as it entered our field of vision, we saw a black figure that was getting bigger and bigger.
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“When it came to the surface, none of the crew with all of their combined fishing experience had seen anything like that."
Kasana took a picture of the creature and sent it to her supervisor who said it appeared to be a Greenland shark, one of the world's longest living creatures.
It is believed to be the first time a Greenland shark has been spotted in the western Caribbean.
Experts think Greenland sharks dive deeper to find cooler water the further they stray from their natural habitat and can go down as far as 7000ft.
The water where the team was working can be as shallow as 25ft but drops steeply in places to reach more than 2,000 feet which could explain why they snared the ancient shark.
"It slopes suddenly and the depth goes really deep really fast," Kasana said.
"We believe the line dragged from a much shallower depth to the drop-off, which is why we ended up catching this individual."
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"If we were to catch another individual it would be sheer luck, we don't set our lines in a way that targets Greenland sharks.”
The team considered taggingthe shark they didn't want to incidentally hurt or kill it in the name of science.
Instead they measured the shark, took notes and a photo, and then sent it on its way.
Ancient beasts: Some of the world’s longest-living creatures
- Aldabra giant tortoise – Species has been known to live to up to 255 years old, making it the oldest terrestrial animal in the world
- Glass sponges (pictured) – Found in the East China Sea and Southern Ocean, examples have been found that are over 10,000 years old
- Great Basin bristlecone pine – One tree is the oldest in North America at 5,067 years old
- Endolith – A microspopic organism that lives inside rock. One was found on the ocean floor in 2013 generation time of 10,000 years
- Hydra – an ocean species that does not age, making it technically immortal
- Creme Puff – The oldest known domestic cat, who died in Austin Texas in 2005 aged 38 years and three days
- Jeanne Calment – French great grandmother who died at 122 years and 164 days in 1997. She outlived both her daughter and grandson by several decades.
Greenland sharks grow approximately one-third of an inch per year and can reach more than 20 feet in length.
Researchers believe the sharks don't reach sexual maturity until sometime after the first 100 years of their life.
Back in 2019, a Greenland shark believed to be the oldest living vertebrae was found in the Atlantic Ocean.
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Experts used its length – a staggering 18ft – and radiocarbon dating to determine its age as between 272 and 512 years old, according to a study in journal Science.
The shark would have been alive during major world events like the founding of the United States, the Napoleonic wars and the sinking of the Titanic.
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