Where Do Whales Live?

Whales can be found inhabiting all of the worlds major oceans from the Arctic and Antarctic oceans to the tropical waters in and around the center of the equator.

Depending on species and migration patterns some whales may be found particularly abundant in some locations while completely absent in others.

Factors such as food supply, the whales overall size (which affects the climate the whale can comfortably survive in) and mating grounds may also affect the location of a particular species of whale.

For example killer whales (part of the dolphin family) can be found in all of the major oceans of the world, but are more concerned with migrating to where their food supply goes than where they mate, therefore their prey plays a large role in where the killer whale lives.

Humpback whales on the other hand travel thousands of miles from the colder polar regions they inhibit to warmer tropical climates during migration periods to find a mate and bear offspring.

During these trips humpback whales will completely forgo eating and focus primarily on traveling to their mating grounds.

Some species of whale may inhibit a small region year-long and choose not to make long migration trips.

The bowhead whale for example will spend the entire year traveling around the Arctic/sub Arctic waters and only make small trips from one location to the other.

So where do whales live?

Killer Whales Swimming in a Small World IllustrationKiller Whale – The killer whale can be seen traveling throughout the worlds major oceans, but they typically prefer cooler climates compared to the tropical climates found near the equator. As stated earlier the migration pattern of these dolphins is more often than not determined by their prey’s migration.

Gray WhaleGray whales are often found swimming in the eastern and western north pacific ocean during feeding season and will migrate towards the Baja peninsula of mexico and the southern golf of california where they can mate and bare off spring during their mating period.

Humpback WhaleWhile humpback whales can be found traveling all over the world, however they prefer the cold waters in and around the Arctic and Antarctic oceans.

Blue Whale – Blue whales can also be found traveling all the major oceans. They can often be seen swimming in the colder regions during feeding season and will migrate towards tropical waters when mating season comes around.

Bowhead Whale – Unlike other species of whale bowhead whales are generally found traveling in the Arctic/sub Arctic ocean year round and aren’t known for making long migration trips.

Minke Whale - There are two known species of minke whales currently in existence, the common or north Atlantic minke whale (which inhibits the north Atlantic waters) and the Antarctic or southern minke whale (which lives in the Antarctic region south of the equator). Due to differences in climate changes in both regions the two species of whale do not meet one another during mating periods (when they travel towards the equator) because their mating seasons are different.

Sperm Whale - Sperm whales can be found in all of the worlds major oceans. Female sperm whales and their young prefer to stay in near tropical waters all year-long while the males can be seen traveling back and forth from the colder climates to the warmer climates during mating periods.

Beluga Whale – Beluga whales are generally found swimming in shallow coastal water in and around Arctic waters. Depending on the area and environment the whale is in some beluga whales will make seasonal migration trips while others will only travel within a small localized area.

Narwhal Whale – Narwhal whales can be found living in or near the Canadian Arctic and Greenlandic waters throughout the year. During the fall and winter they migrate away from the coastal waters (off shore) in order to avoid large areas of ice and frozen water and will move back towards coastal grounds during the warmer spring and summer months.

P.S. Don’t forget to check out our inforgraphic on where whales live.