Cold War

Cold War nuclear bomb tests reveal true age of whale sharks

The radioactive legacy of the arms race solves a mystery about the world’s largest fish.

Text Box:  A whale shark vertebra from Pakistan, in cross section, showing 50 growth bands. Credit: Paul Fanning, Pakistan node of the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation.
AIMS researcher Mark Meekan swimming with a whale shark. (Horizontal)
Credit: Wayne Osborn

Atomic bomb tests conducted during the Cold War have helped scientists for the first time correctly determine the age of whale sharks.

The discovery, published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, will help ensure the survival of the species – the largest fish in the world – which is classified as endangered.

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