How Long Do Whales Live In The Wild: Facts Around Various Types Of Whale


How Long Do Whales Live In The Wild: Facts Around Various Types Of Whale

Whales are intriguing animals with unique lifestyle requirements. Let us together figure out how long whales live in the wild.

On average, whales can survive in the wild for 20 to 70 years or more. However, given the right circumstances, they may live up to 100 years. Several factors like the climate, living conditions, space, and diet affect the lifespan of a whale. Whales also need proper and regular nourishment and sufficient moving space. 

The absence of proper living conditions is detrimental to the lifespan of the whale. Often, people ask several questions about different whale varieties and their lifespans. Without further ado, let’s answer some of these questions.

Image Credits: “Whale Watching Hervey Bay Australia by eGuide” by eGuide Travel is marked with CC BY 2.0.

How long do whales live in the wild?

Whales are fierce creatures that thrive in the ocean. But, are you wondering how long they manage to live in the wild? Let us tell you.

On average, whales have a lifespan of 20 to 70 years in the wild. However, there are a couple of factors that influences the lifespan of a whale. For instance, the environment in which the whale is living should be suitable, and the animal should be able to hunt for proper nourishment to live for long. Besides, they should be able to communicate with their family members. 

If the environment is conducive, whales can live for a very long time. In fact, there have been instances of whales living up to 100 to 200 years. However, a lack of proper social structure and environment can drastically decrease their lifespan. 

How long do blue whales live in the wild?

Image Credits: “Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)” by dave and rose is marked with CC BY 2.0.

It is no secret that blue whales are powerful animals who are very resilient. Let us learn more details about how long whale species can live in the wild.

On average, blue whales can live up to 80 to 90 years. Throughout their lives, blue whales secrete earwax which forms long plugs. Hence, their lifespan is accurately calculated by measuring these multi-layered earplugs. Needless to say, blue whales need a suitable environment to thrive and sufficient food for sustenance. 

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Blue whales are among mammals with the longest lifespan. One of the primary factors for this is that they do not have a number of predators. These creatures are apex predators themselves and, therefore, face little to no threat in the ocean. 

How long do beluga whales live in the wild?

Image credits: “Beluga Whale” by Mike Johnston is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Beluga whales are interesting animals who have their specific requirements which must be met. Let us together learn how long these species can live in the wild.

Beluga whales can easily live around 60 years in the wild. However, when living in captivity, they barely reach up to 30 years. Living in captivity hinders their growth and free movement, which drastically reduces their lifespan. Besides, living in the wild gives them an opportunity to move around and hunt freely, which is essential to their growth.

Although beluga whales are comparatively small when compared to blue whales, they still do not do well in captivity and need ample space to move around. Besides, they need to communicate with other members of their family and hunt for themselves. 

How long do humpback whales live in the wild?

Image Credits: “Humpback Whale” by rjshade is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Humpback whales have very curious behavioral patterns and diets. Let us together learn how long humpback whales can live in the wild.

Humpback whales can survive for around 80 to 90 years, provided all circumstances are right. However, in captivity, their lifespan is drastically reduced. Due to their large size, keeping them in captivity is a nearly impossible task. Besides, humpback whales are generally quite aggressive, and being away from their natural habitat will further heighten this aggressiveness. 

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As such, most whale display facilities steer clear of housing humpback whales. They mostly live in the wild where, if the environment is feasible, they can live up to 90 years, or else they live up to 45-50 years at the minimum.

How long do whales live?

Whales are of various types, and all of them have different lifespans. Allow us to take you through all the details in this regard.

On average, most whale species can live anywhere between 20 to 100 years, while some may live up to 200 years. Whales are quite diverse, and their lifespan is quite diverse as well. For instance, blue whales live up to 90 years, whereas short-finned pilot whales live up to 45 years. Orcas also live up to 50-60 years in the wild. 

As we have mentioned earlier, the environment needs to be conducive for the whale to live long. If not, they usually die quite early. We must also mention here that smaller whale species often fall prey to larger animals, and therefore, their lifespan is reduced.

Do whales live longer in captivity?

Wondering whether whales manage to live longer in captivity? Allow us to tell you more about it. 

Whales do not live long in captivity. Let’s take female orcas, for example. They can live up to 50 years in the wild, whereas in captivity, they merely manage to live up to 12 years. This is because whales need their natural habitat to thrive. They need to move around, hunt for their prey and interact with animals of the same species. 

As such, captivity curtails their movement, and eventually, their lifespan is reduced. Most whale species, be it beluga whales, blue whales, or orcas, do not do well in captivity. 

Do whales suffer in captivity?

Whales are ferocious animals that dominate the ocean. But do they suffer in captivity? Let us find out.

Whales, like dolphins, suffer greatly in captivity. This is because whales are essentially wild animals who thrive out in the open. They need sufficient space for movement. Besides, they should be able to communicate with other whales and marine animals and hunt for their food. No matter how big their tank is, whales do not do well in them. 

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In the wild, there are several factors like habitat, diet, level of endangerment, and lifestyle that affect the lifespan of a whale. However, they still do better in the wild than they do in captivity.

Why should whales not be kept in captivity?

It is a well-known fact that whales should not be kept in captivity. But, why is that? Allow us to tell you more in this regard. 

Whales are not meant for captivity because they are essentially wild creatures who need ample room for movement. Besides, they as social animals, they need  to interact with other animals of their species. In captivity, whales are subjected to chronic stress, fatigue, food deprivation, enormous boredom, and physical injuries. As such, their lifespan is considerably reduced in captivity.

Most whales, like killer whales, prefer living in pods. However, when they are made captive, they are removed from their natural setting for human entertainment. This has an adverse impact on their overall well-being and has led to a decline in their population over the years. 


Over the years, whales have been subject to widespread exploitation. They fall prey to overfishing and are caught in fishing nets. Commercial exploitation considerably reduces their lifespan. Besides, whales are often kept in captivity for human entertainment. As such, they suffer from tremendous stress and loss of habitat. Therefore, several steps have been taken to ensure whales can live in their natural habitat and move around freely in the ocean.

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