How Long Do Whales Live?

The whale species is known to have several of the longest known living animals in the world with several species living for 100 years or more, however estimating the life expectancy of 80 – 90 or so various species of Cetacea (cetaceans include all species of whale, dolphin and porpoise) can be a very challenging task.

Luckily there are some facts and estimates that can be said about whales to help bring clarity to this topic.

The length of a whales life is determined by many factors such as its habitat, geography, diet, level of endangerment and species.

Female killer whales (actually part of the dolphin species) that live in the wild for example have been known to live for up to 70 – 80 years, although the average is about 50 years.

And male killer whales can live to be 50 – 60 years old, but usually live until around their 30′s.

In captivity however most killer whales usually don’t live beyond their 20′s.

As you can see a whales environment and social structure can be detrimental in determining its longevity.

The largest living animal in the world, the blue whale, is too large to be held in captivity.

However over the years the blue whale has become very popular among whale watchers.

These whales are estimated to live to at least 80 years.

Surprisingly this massive whale is able to survive on a diet primarily consisting of krill (small shrimp like crustaceans), and on some occasions fish and other small sea creatures.

On the opposite end of the spectrum the smallest whale, the dwarf sperm whale, which grows to nearly 9 feet and weighs in at around 550 pounds may only live till around 20 – 25 years.

Below is a list of the average life expectancy of several whale species

  • The Beluga whale has an average lifespan of 40 – 60 years
  • The Blue whale has an average lifespan of 70 – 90 years
  • The Bowhead whale has an average lifespan of 100 – 200 years
  • The Fin whale has an average lifespan of 60 – 100 years
  • The Gray whale has an average lifespan of 50 - 70 years
  • The Humpback whale has an average lifespan of 40 – 100 years
  • The Minke whale has an average lifespan of 30 – 50 years
  • The Narwhal whale has an average lifespan of 40 – 60 years
  • The Sperm whale has an average lifespan of 60 – 80 years

Various scientific studies have calculated life expectancy averages of various species to range anywhere from 30 – 70 years (a decent life expectancy among healthy non endangered whales) all the way up to 200 years (for whales such as the bowhead whale that are in top physical health).

Unfortunately there is no clear answer to this question in terms of the entire species, but researchers have been able to give us a pretty good idea of how long some species of whales do live.

Scientists and researchers have researched the life expectancy of various species of whales and have estimated that some whales can live longer than humans.

One study concluded that some bowhead whales have been around for 160 -180 years, and at least one living male bowhead whale has been estimated to be nearly 200 years old.