Gray Whale Facts

Gray whales are 36-50 feet (11-15 m). Males are slightly smaller than females. The largest gray whales weigh about 99,000 pounds (45,000 kg)!

These giant mammals breathe air through nostrils called blowholes, located on top of the head.

The clusters of barnacles on a gray whale's skin are as unique as each human's fingerprints. Scientists use photos to identify and follow lives of individual whales.

A baby gray whale gains 60 to 70 pounds daily, putting on blubber for warmth on its first journey north.

A baby gray whale drinks about 50 gallons of mother's milk each day. It nurses until it is 7-9 months old, and safely back in the northern feeding grounds after its first journey north with Mom.

Gray whales have baleen instead of teeth. They dive, scoop and swallow—gulping mouthfuls of mud from the sea floor and filtering out tiny crustaceans through baleen.

No one knows for sure how long gray whales live, but scientists estimate 40 to 80 years.

Eastern Pacific gray whales were removed from the endangered species list in 1994, thanks to changes in US and Mexican laws. Western Pacific Gray Whales are still endangered. ALL gray whales are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Gray whale

Image: Christopher Match

Gray Whale
Esrichhtius robustus

Animal kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetacea
Sub-order: Mysticeti (baleen)
Family: Eschrichtiidae
Genus: Eschrichtius
Species: robustus