Whales live anywhere from 10 years to 90 years, depending on the species. The Bowhead whale lives the longest, with a lifespan of up to 200 years. The killer whale on the other hand can live for 10-45 years.
To give you a better understanding of how long these mammals can live for, let’s look at the different species and their average lifespans:
- The Bowhead whales, by far the longest lived in the whale family, have an average lifespan of 100 – 200 years.
- The Minkle whales, which are the smallest in the whale family have an average lifespan of 30 – 50 years.
- The Sei whale, which is faster than its size would otherwise suggest, has an average lifespan of about 70 years.
- The Beluga whales, with their stocky bodies, mainly comprising of blubber are the most playful whale species and have an average lifespan of 40 – 60 years.
- The Blue whale, perhaps the largest known animal has an average lifespan of 70 – 90 years
- The Sperm whale, the largest toothed whale, and deepest diver has an average lifespan of 60 – 80 years.
- The Fin whale, the second largest mammal on earth has an average lifespan of 60 – 100 years.
- The Humpback, the most curious and approachable species have an average lifespan of 40 – 100 years.
- The Narwhal, dubbed as the “unicorns of the sea” have an average lifespan of 40 -60 years.
- The Gray whales, descendants of the filter-feeding whales have an average lifespan of 50 – 70 years.
Whale Eating Habits and Factors That May Affect Their Lifespan
You must have heard the phrase “we are what we eat”. What we consume as humans typically determines our size and also lifespan. But what do whales eat to live to such a ripe old age? Whales generally feed on small aquatic life forms such as squid, fish, octopus, crab larvae, krill and plankton. This ultimately depends on whether we talk about toothed or baleen whales.
The fact is that most of these large mammals have baleen plates as opposed to teeth which makes it impossible for them to chew food. This is why most tend to consume food that is small than that consumed by humans. As for swallowing human beings whole, most of the whale species have small throats which won’t allow this. Of course, the sperm whale doesn’t fall in this category as it has a relatively large throat.
Factors that may affect the whale’s lifespan include the environment, geographical location, and level of endangerment.
- Some humans love capturing other living things for entertainment and educational purposes. Unfortunately, not many animals can survive in such an environment, and whales are a good example. Living in captivity may shorten the whale’s lifespan, regardless of species.
- Endangered species have a hard time reproducing thus affecting life expectancy.
- Whales living near human and human activities may also have a shorter lifespan compared to those living in complete wilderness.
Whether it is the charismatic Blue whale or the longest living bowhead whale, all whale species enjoy a healthy dish of krill. Some may throw in some small fish, algae, copepod crustaceans, or even some squid, herring, sea lions, salmon, or sea otters.
No matter the food, different whale species have different lifespans depending on their environment, geographical location, and whether or not they are endangered.