Whales are the largest animals on the planet, and they also have some of the longest life expectancies, with lifespans of up to 200 years. The average lifespan of a whale varies depending on species and type, but most only live for 30 to 70 years. However, we all know that some whale species can live much longer. So, in this article, we’ll dive deeper into the world of some of the longest living whales and learn more about them.
11 Longest Living Whales
11. Common Minke Whale
- Scientific Name: Balaenoptera acutorostrata
- Lifespan: 30 – 50 years
The common minke whale is a type of baleen whale that lives in tropical and subtropical areas. It’s the smallest baleen whale, reaching a length of about 18 feet and weighing up to 6 tons.
Their diet is primarily composed of fish and krill. They’re usually solitary but can be seen in groups of 2-4 individuals. The common minke whale’s head is triangular in shape and slopes down towards its mouth.
Its small but powerful flippers allow it to swim at speeds of up to 24 miles per hour. The back of its body is dark gray, while the belly is white or light gray.
- Scientific Name: Monodon monoceros
- Lifespan: 30 – 52 years
Narwhals are one of the ocean’s most intriguing and elusive creatures. Because of the long tusks on their foreheads, these creatures are known as the unicorns of the sea. These gentle giants are mostly found in the Arctic Ocean and can be found in Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia.
As adults, these whales are mostly gray, but narwhals become whiter as they age. Newborns and juveniles are also colored differently, ranging from blue-gray to blue-black.
Narwhal whales spend most of their time underwater, only surface breathing every 25 minutes. They use echolocation to locate food beneath ice and snow. These species eat fish, such as halibut and cod, as well as squid and shrimp.
9. Cuvier’s beaked whale
- Scientific Name: Ziphius cavirostris
- Lifespan: 50-60 years
The Cuvier’s beaked whale is a medium-sized whale found throughout the world’s oceans. It has a long, pointed head and a melon, which is a large forehead that is more noticeable in adult males. At maturity, this whale species grows to be about 23 feet long and weighs about 3.5 tons.
This beaked whale can be found in groups of up to 15 individuals near the water’s surface, feeding on squid, fish, and octopus. Most males, on the other hand, prefer to be alone.
8. Sei Whale
- Scientific Name: Balaenoptera borealis
- Lifespan: 50 – 70 years
Sei whales are baleen whales and the third-largest rorqual, which are whales from the family Balaenopteridae. With an estimated population of 80,000 found worldwide, they’re also one of the most abundant. Sei whales prefer temperate waters and can be found in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans.
These magnificent whales are grayish-blue on top and white on the bottom. They have two blowholes through which they breathe when they come to the surface to breathe or feed.
Sei whales eat krill, squid, and other small fish species and consume approximately 2,000 pounds of food per day. Every year, sei whales migrate from cool waters in the summer to temperate waters in the winter.
7. Gray Whale
- Scientific Name: Eschrichtius robustus
- Lifespan: 55 – 70 years
The Gray Whale is a type of whale that lives in the coastal waters of the North Pacific Ocean. They can withstand a wide range of water temperatures, including the icy cold temperatures of Alaska.
This whale is a baleen whale, a large carnivorous whale that filters and consumes planktonic organisms using baleen plates in their mouths. A fully grown Gray Whale can reach 40 feet in length and weigh up to 30 tons. Gray whales aren’t very social animals, but they can be seen traveling in groups of four or five.
6. Beluga Whale
- Scientific Name: Delphinapterus leucas
- Lifespan: 40 – 80 years
The beluga whale is a medium-sized whale found in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of the world. They’re most commonly seen in Alaska, Russia, Canada, and Greenland. It’s also known as the white whale and the sea canary due to its vocalizations, which include whistles and squeals to communicate with others.
The globular head of beluga whales is its most distinguishing physical feature. They have a protruding forehead known as the “melon,” which they use for echolocation to find food and to look for ice cracks to breathe on the surface.
This species is a solitary animal that hunts for food on its own, including salmon, arctic cod, herring, and even cephalopods and crustaceans. Beluga whales can grow to be 30 feet long and weigh up to 1.7 tons.
5. Sperm Whale
- Scientific Name: Physeter macrocephalus
- Lifespan: 60 – 80 years
The sperm whale is the largest of the toothed whales, reaching 52 feet in length and 55 tons. It has a massive boxy head with large jaws that contain 18-28 functional teeth. They’re mostly dark gray in color and have an S-shaped blowhole on the left side of their heads.
These whales can be found in the world’s deep oceans, but they’re most common in temperate waters. They can dive for up to an hour and blow 20-70 times before returning to the water. Sperm whales hunt for food using echolocation and have one of the loudest vocalizations of any animal.
4. Humpback Whale
- Scientific Name: Megaptera novaeangliae
- Lifespan: 45 – 90 years
The humpback whale is a beautiful, gentle creature living in the world’s oceans. It’s also one of the most recognizable animals on the planet, thanks to its large pectoral fins and long fluke (tail fin). The humpback whale can grow to be 52 feet long and 33 tons in weight.
These whales are baleen whales, which means they have baleen plates on their jaws that they use to feed on schools of small fish or krill. Although humpback whales are solitary creatures, these creatures are frequently seen swimming in groups known as pods.
3. Blue Whale
- Scientific Name: Balaenoptera musculus
- Lifespan: 80 – 90 years
The blue whale is one of the world’s largest animals. It can grow to be 79 feet long and weigh more than 165 tons. The tongue of a blue whale alone weighs as much as an elephant.
Except for the Arctic regions, this enormous whale resides in every ocean on earth. Small fish, crustaceans, and krill are among its favorite foods. They’ve even been known to consume 4 tons of krill per day.
Blue whales can be seen in the deep sea, where they take short dives of up to 20 minutes, but these animals are most frequently seen at the surface, where they must blow every 2 to 6 minutes for oxygen.
2. Fin Whale
- Scientific Name: Balaenoptera physalus
- Lifespan: 94 – 116 years
The fin whale is the second-largest whale on the planet. This whale species can grow to be more than 85 feet long and weigh up to 72 tons.
These creatures have a distinct appearance, with long, lean bodies and v-shaped heads. It gets its name from its large fins, which make it easy to identify.
Plankton, krill, squid, and small fish make up the majority of their diet. They feed by swimming through large schools of prey animals like krill or fish with their mouths open wide enough to catch them before taking them into their mouths with their baleen plates. Fin whales can be found in all major oceans, though they’re less common in the tropics.
1. Bowhead whale
- Scientific Name: Balaena mysticetus
- Lifespan: 100 – 200 years
Bowhead whales are baleen whales that live in the Arctic Ocean. They’re also known as Arctic whales and Greenland right whales.
Bowheads are one of the largest animals on the planet, with adults reaching 60 feet in length. These creatures live on plankton, krill, and fish.
They filter food from the water using their baleen plates. These animals are also known to live for up to 200 years, making them the oldest whales. Bowheads migrate in the spring and fall and split into three more manageable groups.