Grey Whale Details, Photos, Data & Video For Youngsters & Adults


Grey whale information: uncover an ocean mammal as soon as nicknamed the ‘satan fish’ by whalers on behalf of its fierce combating talents…

Grey Whale Details At A Look

  • Different Identify(s): Gray whale, grey again whale, Pacific grey whale, California grey whale, “satan fish”
  • Scientific identify: Eschrichtius robustus
  • Sort of Animal: Mammal, order Artiodactyla, infraorder Cetacea (whales, porpoises & dolphins)
  • Animal Household: Eschrichtiidae
  • The place Discovered: North Pacific Ocean
  • Size: 40 – 49 ft. (12 – 15 m.)
  • Weight: 30 – 40 (metric) tonnes (33 – 44 quick tons)
  • Conservation Standing: Least Concern

Meet The Grey Whale: Introduction

gray whale breaching
Gray whale breaching. Whales usually leap out of the water and crash again down with a mighty splash. This behaviour is called ‘breaching’.

The grey whale (often known as the gray whale) is a medium-sized whale discovered primarily within the North Pacific Ocean. It’s a baleen whale, which (unusually for whales of this sort) feeds from the ocean mattress. The species will get its identify from grey patches on its pores and skin, that are scars left by parasites.

gray whale calf

The grey whale undertakes a prolonged annual migration between its breeding grounds within the south and feeding grounds within the north. The species holds the report for making the longest migration of any mammal.

Associated Pages

Grey Whale Household & Relations

The gray whale is a member of a gaggle of animals often known as cetaceans. This group consists of all whales, dolphins and porpoises. Cetaceans are members of the infraorder (a gaggle of associated animals) Cetacea.

The ancestors of cetaceans had been hoofed land mammals. The primary cetaceans appeared round 49 million years in the past, in the course of the Eocene epoch of the Paleogene interval.

Hippos are the closest residing land-based relations of cetaceans.

Cetacea is break up into two principal teams: the Mysticeti (baleen whales) and the Odontoceti (toothed whales).

Baleen whales are filter feeders. Missing tooth, they feed by separating meals from seawater utilizing comb-like constructions known as baleen plates situated of their mouths.

The grey whale is the one residing member of the genus Eschrichtius, which in flip is the one genus within the household Eschrichtiidae. Following current DNA analysis, nonetheless, some zoologists now place the grey whale inside the rorqual whale household, Balaenopteridae.

Yow will discover out extra about whale households on this web page: Sorts of Whales

What Does The Grey Whale Look Like?

See an in depth encounter with a grey whale (and calf) within the video beneath…

Reaching a most size of round 49 ft. (15 m), and a most weight of round 44 quick tons (40 tonnes), the grey whale is among the many largest whales. It’s a comparable measurement to the humpback whale.

The gray whale lacks a dorsal fin. Behind the small hump on its again are 7 to fifteen knuckle-like bumps that lower in measurement in direction of the tail.

The whale’s fins are small and paddle-shaped. Its tail has pointed ideas and is deeply notched within the center.

The pores and skin of the gray whale ranges in shade from gentle grey to darkish slate-gray. The grey-white patches from which the species will get its identify are scars left by pores and skin parasites.

gray whale looking out of the water
A gray whale seems to be out of the water.

Parasites akin to barnacles and whale lice give the gray whale’s pores and skin a tough and mottled look.

The baleen plates of the grey whale are cream-colored.

Like all baleen whales, the grey whale has two blowholes. The spray produced by its quick ‘blow’ has a particular bush, or coronary heart form.

Feminine grey whales are often barely bigger than males, however in any other case there’s little distinction between the sexes.

The place Is The Grey Whale Discovered? Distribution & Vary

Jap Pacific Inhabitants

The primary grey whale breeding inhabitants inhabits the japanese North Pacific Ocean alongside the west coast of North America.

Annually the japanese Pacific inhabitants migrates between Baja California within the south and the Bering and Chukchi Seas within the north.

The species spends winter within the southern a part of its vary, migrating north to its feeding grounds within the spring.

A grey whale raises its head out of the water. This behaviour is called ‘spyhopping’.

Western Pacific Inhabitants

A breeding inhabitants that after existed within the western North Pacific is at the moment both extinct or a lot decreased.

This inhabitants migrated between the Sea of Okhotsk (a part of the Pacific Ocean between Russia and Japan) and South Korea. The gray whale was final seen in Korean waters in 1977.

Longest Migration

The grey whale remains to be seen within the Sea of Okhotsk off the Russian island of Sakhalin. Satellite tv for pc monitoring has revealed that a minimum of a few of these ‘western’ whales are literally members of the japanese Pacific breeding inhabitants that migrate all the way in which throughout the Pacific.

Between 2011 and 2012 a grey whale was tracked by satellite tv for pc making a spherical journey of 14,000 miles (22,500km) between the east coast of Russia and the coast of Mexico. That is longest recognized migration of any mammal.

Different Gray Whale Sightings

The grey whale was as soon as additionally discovered within the North Atlantic Ocean. It turned extinct on this area within the early 18th century.

A handful of grey whale sightings have been made in areas outdoors of the species’ ordinary vary, together with the Mediterranean Sea and the coastal waters of El Salvador in Central America and Namibia in southern Africa.

The Namibia sighting, which occurred in 2013, is the first time the grey whale has ever been recorded within the Southern Hemisphere.

Grey Whale Habitat

Because of its distinctive bottom-feeding habits, the grey whale is often present in shallow waters, often close to the coast. Each its feeding and calving grounds are inclined to have sandy or muddy bottoms.

Grey Whale Conduct


The grey whale, like many different whales, is understood to periodically look out of the water utilizing a way often known as ‘spyhopping’.

Spyhopping entails the whale rising vertically out of the water in order that its eyes are above the floor. Whereas spyhopping the podium (snout) could also be uncovered for a number of minutes at a time.

This conduct could also be a method of detecting predators or different whales. Or maybe the whale is simply being inquisitive!


The grey whale may even sometimes ‘breach’. Breaching is when a whale propels itself out of the water and splashes again down, usually twisting onto its facet or again. Causes for breaching could embody communication, parasite removing, or play.


There may be some proof that the grey whale makes use of quite a lot of quick pulses and moans to speak, and that it could even use primary echolocation.

Grey Whale Life-Cycle

Mating takes place in the course of the southbound migration between late November and early December.

The gestation interval is from 13 to 14 months. Most calves are born throughout a 6-week interval round January.

The calving grounds usually have eelgrass beds and could also be situated near mangrove swamps.

The feminine provides delivery to a single calf measuring about 4 m (13 ft.) and weighing 400 to 500 kg (880 to 1,100 lb.). The mom suckles her calf for round 7 months.

Grownup females often give delivery each two years, however annual births are recognized.

What Do Grey Whales Eat?

gray whale showing baleen
The grey whale is a filter feeders. The comb-like constructions of their mouths filter meals from the seawater.

The grey whale is a filter feeder, and unusually for a whale, primarily a backside feeder. Its weight-reduction plan consists of small sea animals akin to amphipods and isopods (small crustaceans), tube worms, cephalopods, the larvae of varied animals, small fish and fish eggs.

The gray whale feeds by turning on its facet close to the ocean flooring and filling its mouth with sediment. The sediment is then pushed via the animal’s baleen plates, which act like a sieve. The whale then scrapes off the trapped meals with its tongue and swallows it.

The grey whale primarily feeds in the course of the summer season, replenishing its fats reserves. Through the breeding season, the whale goes with out feeding and depends on its saved fats.

These reserves are particularly necessary for pregnant and lactating (milk-producing) females, as shortage of meals has been discovered to elongate the interval between births.

Gray Whale Predators

killer whales breaching
The killer whale is the gray whale’s solely pure predator.

The grey whale’s solely predator (aside from people) is the killer whale (Orcinus orca). Killer whales often goal grey whale calves. Searching in pods, they separate the calves from their moms.

The grey whale will usually try and evade the predators by swimming into shallow water or kelp beds.

Grey whale moms are recognized to be fiercely protecting of their calves. This conduct, and the species’ valiant struggles when harpooned by whalers, has eared the species the nickname ‘satan fish’. (Though, in fact, the grey whale is a mammal, not a fish!)

Is The Grey Whale Endangered?

The gray whale’s IUCN conservation standing is ‘Least Concern’.

The estimated measurement of the japanese North Pacific inhabitants is a sturdy 25,000 to 30,000 people.

The grey whale has been shielded from industrial searching since 1949. Different potential threats which were recognized embody entanglement in fishing gear, poisonous spills and ship strikes.

Grey Whale Details: Additional Studying


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