Getting Ready for Gray Whale Migration
Mapping the Migration Route

Student Handouts
Blank Map

Gray whales have one of the longest migrations of any mammal in the world. They travel 5,000 miles from Mexico to the Arctic. When Journey North begins in February, the whales are scattered along their migration route. At the southern end, some Gray Whale mothers are in Mexican waters giving birth to their babies. Some whales have already begun their journey north. Other whales are still traveling south, not yet having completed their fall migration! The process of making a map of the migration route will orient students to the geography of this migration and give them the context they need to follow news in the season's migration news updates.


Laying the Groundwork
Provide an overview of the Gray Whale migration route as described above. Then give each student or student group a copy of the handouts. Show them where they can access resource maps. Then give them time to add important features to their own maps:

Using the blank map provided, students will identify and label:

  • The latitude and longitude lines
  • The oceans and seas in which the whales travel
  • The states and provinces the whales pass
  • The Gray Whale nurseries offshore from Mexico's Baja Peninsula
  • The location of two California "Observation Posts" from which Journey North receives migration data regularly.
  • Students will also make a key and make a title for their maps.

  • Maps developed in this lesson can be saved. As students learn more about the gray whale migration during the season, they can add interesting details and signtificant features to their maps. Creation of new maps can be used for assessment at the end of the season.