Back in 1988, one of the largest great white sharks ever captured was taken into possession off Prince Edward Island. The shark in question was female and measured just over 6 meters in length (~20 feet), accurately measured shark on record, The Discovery Channel said in its list of the Top 5 Legendary Sharks.
Now, the CBC is reporting that the shark was probably 20 years old. Great white sharks live to an age of 70 and do not fully mature until they have reached age 30. This means the P.E.I. shark was still in its teenage years and would likely have developed further had it lived.
— Tobey Curtis (@Mojoshark) March 9, 2015
“If it would have lived longer it would have gotten a lot bigger,” Steven Campana, of the Canadian Shark Research Lab at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Nova Scotia, said, according to CBC.
A lot has improved in terms of what is known about sharks since the 1950s. Researchers now know the sharks mature at a rate much slower than previously understood. The lengthy period of time it takes them to mature suggests that these predators are capable of reaching sizes larger than previously believed. Researchers have also determined that female great whites reach larger sizes than their male counterparts. This is the result of the additional size needed to accommodate the gestational cycle. That said, the P.E.I. shark continues to be significant because it has allowed researchers to conduct more accurate studies into this breed of sharks.
In the past decade, great whites have been spotted making incursions further north into the waters off of Guadalupe Island and Cape Cod. At the same time, a number of studies have been conducted on aspects of such as mating, migration patterns, and eating habits. The sharks are regularly captured, tagged, and set free for further studies. In a recent documentary on the Discovery Channel, the P.E.I. shark was determined to be one of the top five largest sharks ever captured. A lot has changed in the 27 years since the shark was found. Great whites have now officially been declared an endangered species.