Do Whales Die of Old Age?

No, whales don’t die of old age. Rather, old age coupled with medical issues triggers the main causes of death in Whales. For instance, an elderly, sick or injured whale will easily drown due to difficulty experienced when trying to surface and breathe.

Even though the whale is of age, sickness or injury is the main cause of death in such a case.

Top 4 Causes of Death in Whales

Top 4 Causes of Death in Whales

Eventually, life comes to an end, and even the most enormous animal to ever live on earth dies. With the rising interactions of human activities with the ocean and natural causes of death in whales, it is difficult to have a whale die of old age.

Old age is just one of the triggering causes of natural death in whales. Read on to discover how whales die.

  • Elderly Whales Beaching

From deceptive tidal patterns to compromising during a difficult labor, there are several reasons for beaching in whales. A stranded whale could be injured, sick, lost, or even of age. 

When an elderly whale is stranded on the shore, the thick blubber layer that provides insulation from the cold ocean current can cause the whale to overheat on land. Evaporation causes excess water loss from the whale’s lungs and eventually leads to death.

  • Hunting of Whales

At least 3 million whales in the 20th century alone were hunted. Prolific hunting for their blubber, meat, sperm oil, and cartilage led to the whale near extinction, more so the blue and right whales.

Commercial whaling is currently done primarily for meat. Whales are also hunted in a misinformed effort to reduce competition between fish and smaller crustaceans like dolphins.

Recently, whales are no longer hunted for their blubber, a significant fuel source. Whaling has become less important thanks to the invention of kerosene, petroleum, natural gasses, and electricity. Some whale species have also made an astounding comeback.

Today, under the Endangered Species Act, selling precious whale sperm oil and other derived products is illegal in the United States. Exceptions include Japan, Iceland, and Norway.

  • Starvation

Rise in temperatures has contributed to the loss of whale species, especially the gray and humpback whales. The gray whales breed between December and February every year. 

It is common to see them migrate from the cold waters of the northern Pacific Ocean to the warm waters of Baja California to give birth to their cubs.

The female gray whales need to accumulate a large amount of energy and primarily store it as fat for the strenuous journey. 

Unfortunately, many do not end their voyage, as some die before returning home. Ocean warming has led to declines in populations of amphipods that make the whale’s staple diet.

  • Pollution

Solid and liquid pollution from human activities poses major threats to whales. Fishing nets, to be precise, have been hazardous to whales, whether small or large whale species.

When whales get entangled in the fishing nets, they cannot swim to the surface to breathe. This has led to the drowning of many whales and starvation since it becomes difficult for them to feed.

Liquid pollutants in the ocean may lead to cancerous tumors. 


Whale’s death could be natural or triggered by human activities. On the other hand, the huge size of the whale has proven over decades not to hinder their survival.

Whales are safest in the care of gigantic aquariums and zoos. However, some of the whale species’ lifespans outdo the human lifespan, making it even harder to protect the whale’s life.

Although they are a global phenomenon, whale beaching is prevalent along the North Sea’s shallow coastlines.




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