Click to hear a whale song!
robustus is the only species found in the Exchrichtidae family of
baleen whales. Ranging, for the most part, in the North Pacific, the
Gray Whale was once present in the North Atlantic as well. The whale
is mottled gray (considered to be the scruffiest of the great whales)
with numerous white, yellow or orange patches of barnacles and
parasites which allow for easy identification. Grays grow to a
large size. Male gray whales are usually smaller than females,
averaging forty-two feet in length. Females reach an average of
over 47 feet in length weighing-in at over 70,000 pounds.
During the 19th
century, whalers discovered the Gray Whales Baja, California breeding
lagoons and hunted them to the brink of extinction for their oil (each
whale yielded 30+ barrels of oil, which sold for over $30 a barrel in
1855 -- $1245 a barrel today's dollars!). Legally
protected since 1946, gray whales have made comeback to approximately
21,000 individuals, a figure
believed to match the 19th Century pre-whaling numbers. In 1993
the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) removed the Gray Whale
from the Endangered Species List.
The Gray Whale is
probably the most widely known whale because its annual
migration takes it past the highly populated west coast of the United
States. This 10,000 + migration, from the Artic Circle of
Alaska and Siberia to balmy shores of western Mexico is one of the longest
known migrations of any mammal.
Gray Whales lack a
dorsal fin and are adapted to bottom-feeding but they occasionally eat
schooling fish, krill, and even kelp. This is the only
baleen whale known to feed by scooping up large mouthfuls of bottom
sediment straining the mud for food. This diet must be good
because Gray Whales average a 40+ year lifespan (some live over 60
years) and reach maturity after only six years.
Man is the Gray
Whale's primary predator. Orcas and large sharks have been known
to attack Gray Whales by attaching themselves to fins tiring the
giants out and then moving in for the kill. For more information on
Gray Whales see the links below. If you would like to link your
Gray Whale Web page to this site click