NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — For sharks, age is more than just a number.

Michelle Passerotti, a fish biologist with NOAA’s Apex Predators Program, said sharks deposit growth bands in their vertebrae. Generally across species, sharks deposit one band pair per year of life.

A shark’s age is used to manage species.

“How long they live, how often they’re reproducing, at what age they start reproducing … all of these things that are very important for management makes it very difficult if you can’t accurately age them,” Passerotti explained.

The Apex Predators Program lab, located in Narragansett, also dissects sharks’ stomach contents. Knowing what a shark is eating can yield information on what species interact and how if one dwindles, another can be affected.

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