Lifespan varies between sexes in orcas; females can outlive males by as much as 20 years. Several female Southern Resident killer whales have lived to a presumed age of 80+ but only one male is known to have lived beyond 50 (J1, Ruffles).

Over the last several decades, the lifespan of Southern Resident killer whales has likely started to decline, due to a lack of Chinook salmon upon which they depend. Malnutrition can result in severe health issues, including reduced reproductive success, compromised immune systems, and sadly a shortened lifespan.

New research suggests that the average lifespan for female residents is mid-50s, and mid-30s for males. Bigg’s killer whales—hunting mammals in the same waters— are likely to live up to 10 years longer, likely due to their prey being more abundant.

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