6 of Canada’s Longest-living Animals

Diet, meditation, exercise, there are plenty of tips out there for how we can live longer, healthier lives. You might not see them practicing yoga or juicing celery but many of Canada’s animals do live extraordinarily long lives. So, let’s explore these incredible animals and discover some of their secrets to longevity!

Herring Gulls

American Herring Gull (Larus argentatus ssp. smithsonianus)
  • Secret to long life: Fries?

Most seagulls you see at the beach are Herring Gulls, one of the most widespread bird species in Canada, with a breeding range that includes every Canadian province and territory. As much as they might be bothersome when they come after your fries on the beach (who can blame them?), these birds are quite useful in keeping the beaches clean and leading fishing boats to their favourite food – herring (hence the name). It’s fitting that these tenacious birds also have surprisingly long lifespans of up to 30 years.


American Lobster (Homarus americanus)
  • Secret to long life: A shell that’s tough to crack?

The North American Lobster holds the title of the largest crustacean in the world and can be found on the East Coast of Canada. During her lifetime, a female lobster can produce anywhere from a few thousand to several tens of thousands of eggs. While less than one of every thousand of these eggs are expected to reach adulthood, those that do have a lifespan of up to 60 years.

Red Sea Urchins

Red Sea Urchin (Mesocentrotus franciscanus)
  • Secret to long life: West coast, baby!?

Red Sea Urchins can be found in rocky subtidal habitats along the West Coast of North America and have spines all over their dome-shaped bodies. Previous estimates of the Red Sea Urchin’s lifespan ranged from seven to 10 years before recent studies found regional differences in life expectancy. Red Sea Urchins in British Columbia, for instance, can live between 100 and 200 years.

Bowhead Whales

Bowhead Whale (Balaena mysticetus)
  • Secret to long life: Packing on the pounds?

Named for its distinct bow-shaped skull, the Bowhead Whale can be found in the Arctic and sub-artic waters of Canada, with a range stretching all the way to Greenland and Siberia. It’s one of the few whales that live so far north but the Bowhead Whale is well adapted to these extreme conditions, with blubber that can measure up to 45 centimetres in thickness and ample strength to break through the ice. Little is known of this highly vocal creature, but tests carried out in the western Arctic suggest the whale can live between 100 to 200 years!

Rougheye Rockfish

Rougheye Rockfish (Sebastes aleutianus)
  • Secret to long life: Dangerously dazzling eyeliner?

The Rougheye Rockfish can be found along the entire west coast of North America. Known for a series of spines under the lower rim of its eyes, and its striking red colour, this fish has a lifespan of at least 200 years.

Ocean Quahog

Ocean Quahog (Arctica islandica)
  • Secret to long life: Life on the beach?

This large burrowing and edible clam is found in the sandy beds of the western Atlantic Ocean. On the outside of its thick oval-shaped shell, you will be able to see growth rings which can tell scientists not only the specimen’s age but also the environmental conditions experienced throughout the quahog’s life. These clams are extremely long-lived and it’s common to find a quahog that’s over 100 years old. One quahog that was found off the coast of Iceland in 2006 was 507 years old.

Learn more about some of our Canadian species at hww.ca!