The oldest reef fish found off the coast of Australia

This perch-like makolor was born in the last years of the Great Depression, survived the Second World War and thus earned the title of long-liver among the reef fish found to date.

Off the coast of Western Australia, in the Indian Ocean, they found a spotted macolor (Macolor macularis), belonging to the species of ray-finned fish of the snapper family of the order perchiformes. The peculiarity of this particular makolor is that it was born in the first half of the last century – and reached the age of 81.

The fish swam in the shallows off Rowley Reefs (a group of three coral reefs south of the Timor Sea), about 300 kilometers west of Broome, Australia. This is reported in an article for Coral Reefs magazine.

In total, the authors of the work – employees of the Indian Ocean Research Center at the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences, as well as the Fisheries and Marine Research Laboratory – captured 11 inhabitants of this reef, whose age was more than 60 years. Among them – one 79-year-old bohar snapper (Lutjanus bohar) (previously their maximum lifespan was estimated at about 55 years) and the aforementioned spotted macolor, which was named the oldest tropical reef fish recorded so far.

“To this day, the oldest fish we found in shallow tropical waters was around 60 years old,” said biologist Brett Taylor, study leader. Thus, the discovered macolor broke the record for longevity by as much as 20 years.

The age of the fish was determined after studying the structure of their sagittal otoliths – solid formations on the surface of cells that perceive various mechanical stimuli that are involved in equilibrium in some invertebrates, all vertebrates and humans.

As experts note, the otoliths of the first year of fish life are characterized by a rounded shape, which changes over time, acquiring depressions and “carvings” along the edges. In addition, otolith variations are influenced by genetic factors, habitat and nutrition. These formations are located in the head of the fish and serve as a kind of growth rings by which the age of the animal can be calculated.

“This lifespan confirms the low rate of natural mortality among these species, as well as the need to develop effective management systems to ensure sustainable fisheries in areas where these species are present,” summed up the biologists.

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