Thursday, June 14, 2007

Do Whales Live for 200 Years?

Run a quick Google search for “whale lifespan” and you’ll find answers ranging from 20 to 90 years old. But evidence from a widely reported incident in Alaska suggests whales may live well into the 100s.

According to the BBC report on this, scientists pulled a “bomb” fragment from a recently deceased bowhead whale carcass. The crazy part? The “bomb” has not been manufactured since 1885. And since whalers probably did not hunt young whales, the bowhead may have been close to 130 years old. Scientists figure the whale had this fragment in its shoulder since 1890. Said one expert, “having the weapon lodged in its shoulder might have been uncomfortable for the whale, but it must have got used to it.” It must have.
So how long can a whale live for? “Scientists say it is rare to find a whale over 100 years old but believe some may reach 200,” reports the BBC.

A couple of interesting side notes. First, having weapon fragments lodged in the body for long periods of time is not unique to whales. Recently, a 77-year-old Chinese woman had a bullet removed from her head that had been lodged there since World War Two, reported Reuters. Apparently, she lost consciousness after being shot and didn’t realize a bullet remained despite regular headaches, foaming at the mouth and talking “nonsense” like “she had gone mad” for the rest of her life according to reports.

The second side note has to do with maximum recorded animal lifespans. Check out this list from “The Book of Lists.” The oldest recorded animal lifespan was that of a tortoise. The creature lived to be 188 years old. Second on the list was a Lake Sturgeon at 152 and rounding out the top three is a human that lived for 122 years.

4 comments:

Viscral said...

Very interesting. I too have heard about whales living to 200 years. I know that there are species that have lived for over one hundred years. Great post.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.