Quiz: How old is that fish?

Sea creatures are some of the longest living organisms on earth.

Some of them rack up more years of life than the maximum meterage of fishing line you can squeeze onto your sea reel.

But who lives longest: koi carp or bow head whale? Lobster or orange roughy? Take our quiz to see if you know how long until each critter croaks.

Make a note of your answers and scroll down to the bottom for the answers.

1. Orange Roughy

Orange Roughy

Image source: CSIRO
Stocks are diminishing

You’ll find orange roughy served up in restaurants and fish and chip shops the world over, but should you eat it?

A very slow growing deep sea fish, its flesh is tasty enough but contains high levels of mercury.

And when you consider it doesn’t even reach sexual maturity until it hits its mid twenties, it’s not surprising populations are vulnerable to overfishing.

Stocks in the oceans off Australia and New Zealand have already crashed and other stocks are fast dwindling.

What’s the lifespan of an Orange Roughy?

A) 72 years
B) 150 years
C) 205 years

2. Koi Carp

Koi Carp

Image source: 3268zauber
The $1,000,000 fish!

The rarest, biggest and most beautiful (if you like that kind of thing) Koi carp change hands for big bucks.

And some of the most expensive are displayed in the atria of swanky head offices of some of Japan’s most successful corporations. At the peak of the Koi boom in the 1980, it’s thought fish changed hands for upwards of $1 million – or $2.2 million in today’s money.

UK carp have been known to live for upwards of 60 years – plenty of time to learn how to evade all but the most skilled wielder of a carp fishing rod, but how about the longest lived of the ornamental variety?

What’s the longest a Koi Carp has ever lived?

A) 36 years
B) 174 years
C) 225 years

3. Bowhead Whale

Bowhead whale

Image source: Olga Shpak
How long do these giants live for?

Scientists keen to discover what makes us kick the bucket recently mapped the genome of this long lived whale.

In 2007, a 49ft bowhead whale caught off the coast of Alaska was found to have lodged in its flesh the remains of an exploding harpoon.

The artefact dated from 1890 meaning the whale survived an attempt on its life in the same year the Forth Bridge opened, Authur Conan Doyle published his second novel, ‘The Sign of the Four’, and the US 7th cavalry massacred at least 200 Lakota men, women and children at Wounded Knee.

Clearly an old whale – but how old?

How old did the oldest Bowhead Whale live for?

A) 89 years
B) 211 years
C) 345

4. Lobster


Image source: Cefaclor
Shell shedders.

They keep growing until they die, but we’ll let you have this clue: contrary to plentiful claims that lobsters are immortal, they’re not.

To grow, a lobster has to shed its shell, something it does many times throughout its life. In fact in the first year of life, a baby lobster can shed over 40 times. But as it grows older, the process slows so that by the age of about seven, it moults just once a year, and thereafter only every three or four years.

Casting off an old shell and growing a new one takes energy and it seems that by the time a lobster reaches its maximum life span, it no longer has the energy to cast off its shell. Though a lobster doesn’t age in the way that other creatures do, its final shell gets bashed and battered until bacteria seep into the cracks and eventually kill it off.

But how old is a lobster before it goes belly up?

A) 140 years
B) 204 years
C) 456 years

5. Sturgeon


Image source: Aarchiba
Unchanged in 135 million years.

A living fossil, North American lake sturgeon belong to a family of fish that have remained largely unchanged for 135 million years.

Their bony side plates, greenish grey colouring and pointed snouts, certainly look like they hail from the time when dinosaurs roamed the planet, but how long does a single specimen live?

To make it easier, we’ll give you a clue – males can live for around 55 years.

But up to how long can the female of the species live?

A) 70 years
B) 80 years
C) 150 years

6. Molluscs


Image source: Hans Hillewaert
Remember Ming the mollusc?

Ming the mollusc was a clam trawled from the seabed off the coast of Iceland in 2006.

When examined by scientists, it caused great excitement because it was clearly so old. The fact that the creature turned out to be even older than originally thought lent a certain poignancy to the story because in the attempt to count its growth rings, scientists accidentally killed it.

No one will ever know how old Ming might have become if left alone in the watery deep.

How old was Ming when its life was cut tragically short?

A) 234 years
B) 398 years
C) 507 years

7. Red Sea Urchin

Red Sea Urchin

Image source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Incredible creatures.

The Japanese consider their sex organs to be a delicacy, the Maori have consumed ‘kina’ since pre-European times, but tasty though they may be, the sea urchin is also an astonishing creature.

Hundreds of hydraulically operated tube legs enable it to move in any direction while its spines can be coordinated to point in the direction of a threat.

Sensitive to touch, light and chemicals, the sea urchin’s entire body acts like a kind of compound eye. Oh, and it can live for a very long time.

Typically, how long can a Red Sea Urchin live for?

A) 50 years
B) 200 years
C) 1000 years


1. Orange roughy: B) 150 years
2. Koi carp: C) 225 years
3. Bowhead whale: B) 211 years
4. Lobster: A) 140 years
5. Sturgeon: C) 150 years
6. Mollusc: C) 507 years
7. Red sea Urchin: B) 200 years

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