How Long Do Whales Live?

How Long Do Whales Live?

How long an individual whale will live depends on several factors. However, types of whales have an average age they usually attain.Male and female killer whales or orcas have differing lifespans. As with humans, the females live longer. Their lifespans closely follow their mating years. A male matures sexually at 25, and the average age he will live to is 29 years in the wild. The female killer whales, on the other hand, can live an average of 50 years. They stop reproducing at around 40 years of age.

Beluga whales are found in the Arctic and can weigh thousands of pounds. The adults take on a white color all over when they reach the age of 13. In the wild they are thought to live from 35 to 50 years maximum. They are hunted by killer whales in the sea. On land, polar bears also attack them on the surface. It’s rare to find them close to surface except when they come up to breathe.The age of humpback whales can be difficult to determine, but it’s thought that they live to about 45 to 50 years. Mammals’ age is often measured by their teeth, and humpbacks have none. This presents a unique challenge. Other methods of determining their age have been tried, but there’s no  consensus on any one method as yet. These whales used to be on the endangered species list due to hunting, which shortened their lifespan. However today the humpback whale population has increased to a safe level and they are not considered to be in danger. Sperm whales can live anywhere from 50 to 70 years. While their lifespans would have been cut short in the 18th and 19th century, now they are able to reach longevity. The whale in the famous novel Moby Dick was a sperm whale. During that time these whales were hunted vigorously for a substance they carry in their heads. This substance, previously thought to be sperm, is still used today as a lubricant. The blue whale has one of the longest lifespans of its kind, starting at 90 years. The longest one ever recorded managed to make it to 110 years. The bowhead whale, however, has it beat by double. If you are lucky to see this type of whale on a tour, you’d be looking at something that has lived twice as long as any human. The bowhead has no teeth, just like the humpback. Still, a discovery of a harpoon and other weapons dated these whales as being alive during the 1800s. With this new information, the bowhead has surpassed the blue whale and is the oldest living mammal in the sea.

Moby Dick
Moby Dick Novel

Factors that reduce whales’ lifespan

Captive whales often don’t live if whales in the wild. In some cases, captivity can reduce their lifespan by half. Being hunted by humans is a common occurrence, unfortunately. Food shortages due to humans overfishing, and their food being contaminated, can also hurt a whale population.


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