Scientists estimate fish inside SF's Steinhart Aquarium to be 92 years old

Scientists have now determined that a fish inside the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences is a record holder.

Tucked deep inside the Aquarium, amidst the massive reef exhibits giving a peek into life under the sea, there is an unassuming tank, with a very special fish inside. 

Named Methuselah, after the longest lived biblical figure, most who pass her tank don't know her secret. Just how old this fish really is. 

"I would suspect that that fish is maybe like, 10 years old, guessed Steinhart visitor Fiera Clark. "20? Is it 40? Seriously? What about like 60? There's no way that that fish lives that long!"

Methuselah has been a part of the aquarium for a very, very long time. She, at least scientists think she's a she, was brought to the museum in 1938. Now, a new technique has used DNA from Methuselah's fin to pin down her age. "Methuselah is estimated to be 92 years old, plus or minus eight years," said Brenda Melton, Steinhart Aquarium Director of Animal Care and Well-being. "So, she could be celebrating her 100th birthday along with Steinhart Aquarium."

That would make Methuselah the oldest fish currently under human care. The new data on Methuselah's age is adding to scientists understanding of the Australian Lungfish.

While most visitors are familiar with the fun side of the Academy of Science and the aquarium, most don't know about the very real science happening here, contributing to our knowledge about the natural world around us. "This could help look at how long certain animals remain in populations, perhaps reproduction, and longevity," said Melton. "This is an endangered species in the wild. So, this could really help conservationists understand what they need to do to preserve for this species in the future."

Visitors say they didn't realize that this old fish was keeping her age a secret for so long. "That is a secret," said Steinhart visitor, Charlotte Cameron-Raja. "You'd think there'd be more information saying that. There's not though."

While Methuselah may be inching toward the century mark, no one can say with any certainty how much longer Methuselah will be with us. So, really, every day Methuselah is here at the Steinhart Aquarium that fish is pushing scientific boundaries and increasing our scientific knowledge.


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