Gray Whale Facts for Kids

Gray whale (Eschrichtius Robustus) is the only species from the genus Eschrichtius that is alive today. Its ancestors first appeared around 30 million years before. The migrations of the gray whale are the longest by any mammal, in search of food and breeding. It is a baleen whale. Due to the fighting habits of this whale, there was a time when it was named as “devil fish”.

It has dark-slate gray appearance with white patches that are left behind due to parasites. At the top of its head, there are twin blowholes that create shape of a heart during blow.

It can grow up to a length range of 40 to 50 feet and weighs up to 88,000 pounds.

It has a lifespan of about 55 to 70 years.

Breeding can occur any time. Gray whales reach maturity at the age of 8 years. A female whale reproduces a calf twice a year.

A calf has a length of 16 feet and has a black-colored body. The mother nourishes her calf for 7 months.

These whales inhabit along waters of the North Pacific. They feed on coastal waters of Beaufort Sea, Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea and Vancouver Island to California. During fall, they feed off the Gulf of California and western shore of Baja California. Gray whale sails at an average speed of 5 mph and covers a distance of about 75 miles each day. One individual even undertook a journey of 13,670 miles, which is the longest for any mammal.

Gray whales scoop up sediments from the bottom and filters it by means of its comb-like material called baleen. They are known to feed on herring and crab larvae, cuttlefish, krill, octopus, red crabs and shrimp.

Orcas are the only known predators of gray whales. Besides, humans also pose significant threat to their survival through commercial whaling.

Other names: California gray whale, gray back whale, pacific gray whale

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