ANIMALS A - Z

Gray Whale Facts


Photo courtesy of NOAA Photo Library  

Latin Name: Eschrichtius robustus

Length: 12 – 14 meters (40 – 46.6 Feet)

Weight: Adults can weigh up to 33 tons!

Lifespan:
There is very little information on the age of Gray Whales but estimates show they can live from 50 to 80 years.

Diet:
The Grey whale’s main diet consists of benthic amphipods which are small crustaceans that look similar to shrimps. These amphipods are found in the sediments of ocean floor. Other prey includes mysids, crab larvae, herring eggs and plankton.

Reproduction: 
After a successful copulation the females has a 12 – 13 month gestation. Calves nurse for 6 – 8 months. The mating and giving birth takes place in lagoons.

Interesting facts on Gray Whales 
 
The Gray whale has one of the longest mammal migration routes in the world. Their migration starts at Bering in the Chukchi Sea and ends in The Baja lagoons of Mexico and then back again! The total round trip of the migration measures a staggering 10 000 to 12 000 miles (16 000 – 19 000 kilometres)
 
Gray whales are also known by the names Devil fish, Gray back, Hard head and Mussel digger.
 
Due to excessive whale hunting, by the beginning of the 20th century the Gray whale was almost extinct. Today there are around 20 000 individuals which is an extraordinary comeback.
 
Gray whales have whiskers. The whiskers help the whale to navigate through their surroundings by a sense of touch.
 
These whales are classified as baleen whales which also include dolphins and porpoises.
 
Young calves can drink up to 300 litres (79 gallons) of milk in a day! The mother’s milk consists of up to 50% fat. The fat thickens the milk and prevents it from dissolving to quickly when passing through the water to the calves mouth.
 
As a signal of any nearby danger, the Gray whale will lift its tale-fin out of the water and slap down hard on the surface water.