The life cycle of a whale consists of three stages: the baby stage, the adolescent stage and the adult stage. The duration of each stage varies widely based on each whale species.

Baby whales, called calves, are born after a gestation period of 11 to 16 months. Typically only one calf is born, and it stays with the mother until it is weaned. Weaning takes place between 1 and 3 years of age. Adolescent whales are weaned but are not yet sexually mature. These whales begin to leave their pods and explore with other whales of the same gender. Whales reach adulthood between the ages of 6 and 13 years, depending on the species. Adult whales migrate to warmer waters to search for mates. Whales can live from 25 to 100 years.